Adolescents' transition to first intercourse, religiosity, and attitudes about sex

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Using two waves of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, this study examines two sets of relationships between attitudes, religiosity, and first sex among adolescents. First, I estimate the effects of religiosity and attitudes about sex on the likelihood of engaging in first sex. Then, I estimate the effect of having sex on subsequent religiosity and attitudes. The findings are consistent with past research that finds attitudes are a significant predictor of sexual activity. The effect of religiosity on first sex is mediated by attitudes about sex. Regarding reciprocal effects, having sex for the first time has a significant effect on later attitudes, but not religiosity. This study highlights the importance of going beyond traditional, recursive models that consider only one side of a causal relationship.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1031-1052
Number of pages22
JournalSocial Forces
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2003

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research is based on data from the Add Health project, a program project designed by l. Richard Udry (PI) and Peter Bearman, and funded by grant P01-HD31921 from the National Institute ofChild Health and Human Development to the Carolina Population Center, University 0/North Carolina at Chapel Hill, with cooperative funding participation by the National Cancer Institute; the National Institute ofAlcohol Abuse and Alcoholism; the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders; the National Institute on Drug Abuse; the National Institute ofGeneral Medical Seiences; the National Institute ofMental Health; the National Institute ofNursing Research; the Office ofAIDS Research, NIH; the Office ofBehavior and Social Science Research, NIH; the Office ofthe Director, NIH; the Office ofResearch on Women's Health, NIH; the Office of Population Affairs, DHHS; the National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, DHHS; the Office of Minority Health, Centersfor DiseaseControl and Prevention, DHHS; the Office ofMinority Health, Office ofPublic Health and Seience, DHHS; the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, DHHS; and the National Seienee Foundation. Persons interested in obtaining data files [rom the National Longitudinal Study ofAdolescent Health should contaet Add Health Project, Carolina Population Center, 123 West Franklin Street, Chapel Hili, NC 27516-2524. Direct correspondenee to Ann Meier, Departments ofSociology and Rural Soeiology,8128 Social Scienee Building, 1180 Observatory Drive, Madison, WI 53706-1393.

Funding Information:
'I- I thank Gary Sandefur, Elizabeth Thomson, Larry Bumpass, Charles Halaby, Molly Martin, Kelly Musick; Alberto Palloni, lohn DeLamater, and two anonymous Social Forees reviewers for advice on this article. This work is supported by a traineeship in the Center for Demography and Ecology at the University 0/Wisconsin-Madison. Additional support was provided by a NICHD grant (U01-HD37566) to Gary Sande/ur.


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