School Disadvantage and Sexual Debut in Malawi

Jinho Kim, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Numerous studies in less developed countries have documented the determinants of early premarital sexual intercourse among young people at the individual level. Although studies in more developed countries have paid great attention to the instrumental role of social context in adolescents’ sexual behavior, the majority of studies in less developed countries have ignored neighborhood and school effects. Using two waves of data from a large-scale school-based survey in Malawi, this study advances our understanding of the relationship between school context and adolescents’ sexual behavior. The results from multilevel modeling suggest that attending disadvantaged schools increases the probability of initiating sexual activity, and this contextual effect of school disadvantage is moderately mediated by marital aspirations and peer influences. This study also provides suggestive evidence that school disadvantage might affect students’ transition to sexual activity by changing normative school climate net of the observed mediation processes.

  See extended abstract

Presented in Poster Session 2: Fertility Intentions and Behavior