Sexual Initiation, Marriage and First Birth in Central America: Trends in Timing and Context

Emily Vala-Haynes, University of Pennsylvania
Claudia Valeggia, University of Pennsylvania

Initiation of sexual intercourse and subsequent transitions to first marriage and first birth are events that impact individuals’ health, social, and economic well-being throughout the life course. This study uses survival analysis to examine trends in the timing and context of these events in Central America. Using data from Demographic and Reproductive Health Surveys for women ages 15-24 in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, we find that the median age of these events is relatively constant throughout the past 20 years. However, timing between these events is changing for individuals, and marriage diverges from sexual initiation in recent cohorts for three countries. In addition, we find that timing of these events is delayed for those who are Catholic, live in urban areas, and are enrolled in school. This study shows dynamic shifts in the relationships among events that have implications for both demographic trends and family planning policies.

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Presented in Poster Session 1