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Influences on Early Sexual and Fertility Behavior CHAPTER 1 FACTORS AFFECTING INITIATION OF SE XUAL INTERCOURSE Sandra L. Hofferth INTRODUCTION The initiation of sexual intercourse is an important topic in the study and prediction of fertility. In their theoretical analysis of fertility and its determinants, Davis and Blake (1956) argued that socioeconomic and other factors affect fertility only through its proximate determinants, that is, through exposure to sexual inter- course, exposure to conception, given intercourse, and gestation and successful parturition, given conception. Since under all but exceptional circumstances, conception does not occur without it, sexual intercourse is the first of these proximate factors to be examined. In the past, fertility was studied primarily within marriage. This was not only due to the difficulty of obtaining information on sexual behavior, but also to the assumption that inter- course takes place primarily within marriage. However, recently the study of sexual intercourse itself has taken on more importance. This is, first, because of the increased separation of sexual activity from marriage. A substantial amount of sexual activity and, thus, exposure to the risk of pregnancy occurs outside the marriage relationship. As a result, an increasing proportion of childbearing occurs outside of marriage--12 percent of white and 57 percent of black children were born to an unmarried mother in 1982 (NCHS, 19841. Although some teens are married, the majority are not. The proportion of out-of-wedlock childbearing is even higher among teenagers. Thirty-six percent of births to white teens 15-19 and 87 percent of the births to black teens 15-19 occurred outside of marriage in the United States in 1982 (NCHS, 1984~. Another important factor is the increase in cohabitation (Spanier, 1982; Blanc, 1984~. Although the number of cohabiting couples with children in the United States is relatively small (about 30 percent), it increased between 1975 and 1980 (Spanier, 1983~. Thus not only is the study of factors affecting the initiation of sexual activity among unmarried as well as married women important today, but it has become critical to any prediction of future fertility. A second important reason for studying the initiation of sexual intercourse is that, above and beyond its impact on fertility, too early sexual activity in or outside of marriage may not be desirable 7

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8 for the youth involved. This is an important issue. Since almost everyone eventually becomes sexually active, what age is Too early" is an important question, but one which is continually being redefined by changes in patterns of sexual activity and the definition of n too early varies by individual. It is generally based on judgements about maturity and physical development that do not progress at the same speed or age for all people. The definition and the consequences sexual activity may have for an adolescent also vary across groups in the society which hold different views on what behavior is appropriate. To define what age is Too earlyn will require even closer social science scrutiny to its consequences net of childbearing. This chapter focuses on the initiation of sexual intercourse among teenagers. Because of potential differential interest in teens at different ages, ages are divided, where possible, into the three age groups most commonly used in the data: less than 15, 15 to 17, and 18 to 19. Unfortunately little information is available for the under 15 age group, but data will be presented when available. This paper also focuses on the initiation of sexual intercourse rather than a variety of other sexual activities, primarily because the major interest is in behavior that involves pregnancy risk. How- ever, an additional reason is that the traditional ordered scale of sexual activities which is often used--holding hands, kissing, necking, petting above the waist, petting below the waist, intercourse--does not appear to apply to blacks. That is, blacks are likely to have experienced intercourse before behaviors "earlier" on the scale {Smith and Udry, 1985~. The outline of this chapter is the following: The incidence of sexual intercourse among teenagers is first described. Second, a model of the process of initiation of sexual intercourse is discussed. Third, research bearing on each of the aspects of the model is dis- cussed, following the same logical outline. In particular, the empirical evidence on the linkages between background factors and sexual intercourse is presented, followed by evidence on the inter- vening linkages between background and intercourse. The chapter focus is on the research that sheds some light on the process whereby back- ground factors affect sexual activity, that is, on explaining sexual activity. The reader should continue to refer the model, as the outline follows it closely. BACKGROUND According to a nationally representative sample of women in 1982, 43 percent of never married women 15 to 19 said they had had sexual intercourse Pratt et al., 1984~. The proportion of all never married teens who report being sexually experienced rises from a low of 18 percent for 15 year olds to 66 percent for 19 year olds. Blacks are more likely to report sexual experience than whites. These percentages

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9 are shown in Table 1.3. Experience rises almost linearly with age. National figures for 1983 on the sexual experience of teen men show that by age 18 two-thirds have experienced intercourse (Table 1.4~. Using 1983 data to compare rates of intercourse among men and women (Table 1.4), it is clear that a higher proportion of males than females of a given age report having experienced sexual debut, although the differences decline with age. Unfortunately, only one national data set, the NLS provides data on the sexual activity of teens under age 15 (Table 1.4~. Most data we have come from a variety of small area studies; as a consequence the samples vary considerably from study to study. Table 1.5 shows estimates of sexual activity among males and females in several of these small studies. The estimates for young white male and female teens and for black females are consistently lower than estimates for older teens, as one would expect. The estimates for black males, in contrast, are very high, in some cases higher than those of older teens, which suggests low data reliability or unusual samples (e.g., low SES), among this group. Of course, having had intercourse once does not necessarily mean the youth has intercourse frequently or regularly. However, it appears that, lacking data on frequency of sexual activity, a measure of ever having had intercourse is a relatively good proxy. In 1982 only 5 percent of teenagers 15-19 who ever had intercourse said they had it only once. Almost half of white teens and three in ten black teens said that they had second intercourse within one month after the first. Two-thirds of both races had second intercourse within three months of first intercourse. However, having ever had sex doesn't mean that a young woman is currently sexually active, that is, had sex during the last three months. In 1982, of those teenagers who had ever had sex, 18 percent had not had sex in the past three months, 16 percent had it only once a month, 25 percent 2-3 times per month, 21 percent once a week, 16 percent more than twice a week, and only 3 percent daily (Table 1.7~. Sex is more frequent among the 18-19-year-olds than either 15-17-year- olds or 29-24-year-olds. Frequency of intercourse is related to the nature of the relationship with the partner--the more committed/steady the relationship (e.g., going steady, marriage plans), the more frequent the sexual activity (Zeloik et al., 1981~. Nor does having had intercourse as a teenager imply casual sex, that Is, sex with a large number of partners or with casual acquain- tances. According to 1979 data from a national sample, about half of all females who have had sexual intercourse have had only one partner (Table 1.81. Although a smaller proportion of blacks (41 percent) than whites (51 percent) have had only one partner, a slightly larger proportion of white than black teens have had 6 or more partners--9 percent versus 5 percent of blacks. Of course, the number of partners

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10 is related to the length of time sexually active--such that those who have been active longer have had more partners {Zelnik et al., 1980~. Table 1.9 shows that the majority of women and over a third of men were going steady or engaged to be married at sexual debut. Adding dating raises the proportion of women in a dating or serious relation- ship at debut to almost 90 percent, and the proportion of men to over half. That is, only a small proportion of women (10 percent) compared to about 2 out of 5 men have first intercourse with a casual partner. The type of relationship with the partner at sexual debut varies by age of the youth. For both males and females, the younger the age at debut, the more likely the first relationship was of short duration (recently met), of friendship rather than romance {Table 1.10~. Table 1.11 shows where teen women say their first premarital inter- course took place. In 1979 the largest proportion reported that first intercourse occurred in the home of the partner; the next largest proportion reported that it occurred in the respondent's home or the home of a relative or friend. One issue of importance is the extent to which initiation of sexual intercourse is voluntary or involuntary, such as a result of rape or incest. This is especially important for the very youngest teens. Unfortunately we have no reliable information at the national level. A MODEL OF SEXUAL ACTIVITY The model of the initiation of intercourse used in this paper builds on models from Udry, 1978; Fox et al., 1982; Philliber, 1980a, 1980b; Chilman, 1983. There are two major components or factors in the model: On the left is the biological component, on the right the psychosocial component. Interaction between the two sides is represented by the double-headed arrow connecting the biological and psychosocial processes (Figure 11. Biological The biological process of maturation involves the development of innate physical capacities, including motor skills, the development of hormonally linked sex motivation or "sex drive," and physical maturation. Those aspects of development that each individual experiences are included here. Psychosocial Agents Society/culture/subaulture. This includes characteristics of the larger society that affect individuals through membership or residence in certain groups or communities. These include the cultural patterns

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of the broader society (e.g., the nation) and of smaller reference groups, including the neighborhood, city and region. Race, ethnicity, social class and religion also constitute reference groups. These contexts represent different societal norms and values which affect the values, norms and beliefs each individual holds, including those of sexuality and fertility. The school and the media also represent contexts. The school affects the educational experiences and levels of achievement of young persons. The media may represent a leveling influence since the national networks provide uniform influence across cultural groups and settings. Family. Probably the most important influence on children is their family of origin. There are many aspects to the family that could affect sexual behavior: 1) The education, occupation and income of parents, the parents' own family background, and parents' age at marriage and first birth; 2) The number of parents in the family, the number of children, the presence of other family members; 3) Family experiences, such as divorce or separation, and the interactions among family members, including degree and effectiveness of communication. Finally, 4) the attitudes, values and norms of family members are important aspects of this context. Peers. It is often assumed that during adolescence the family as context for socialization declines in importance and the peer group increases in importance. Included under peer group here are the values and attitudes of significant others e.g., close or best friends--as well as their actual behaviors, and the extent of match between individuals' beliefs about friends' behavior and attitudes and actual behavior and attitudes. Process The major mechanism through which these three factors affect individuals is globally labeled n learning. n There are two basic aspects of this process: socialization and development. Socializa- tion emphasizes the interpersonal content of learning; development emphasizes the individual context of learning. They reflect concepts developed in two different fields: sociology and psychology respectively. The overall process is one that involves learning. There are several important mechanisms of learning: Direct verbal communication. This includes information provided by the media (magazines, books, popular music, television, etc) as well as conversations with parents and friends, and direct teaching in schools, churches and other institutions. Sanctioning. This includes direct and indirect rewards for proper or appropriate behavior and sanctions for violation of behavioral standards. Rewarding desired behavior and punishing undesired behavior are the most direct methods of socialization. However, they are not the only methods.

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13 Modeling. Children appear to learn the behavior of models without actual rewards and punishments. Not all elements of behavior are copied, and some models are copied more than others, especially those in control of desired resources. Internalization of norms and values. Children learn rules, norms and values, which they take as guide to their own actions. These may have direct sanctions, such as the approval or disapproval of "signifi- cant others associated with them, or the sanctions may be indirect, such as through internalized guilt or expectations of such sanctions. They may also include strongly held beliefs such as moral disapproval of sex outside marriage. Outcomes The results of this process are conceptualized as the personality of the child, that is, the set of attitudes and values that make up the individual, as well as his or her physical and cognitive capacities and psychosocial characteristics such as self-esteem. These physical, cognitive and social aspects of the individual determine his or her utility or reward structure, i.e., how he or she evaluates the consequences of certain behaviors and, as a result, that particular individual's incentive structure or predilection to act (Udry, 19781. This incentive structure is what subsequently deter- mines behavior in a particular situation. The final aspect of the model is that of opportunity and access to alternatives. The individual may be predisposed by the earlier part of the model to act in a certain way in a certain situation, but if that situation never arises, neither will the behavior. There are several aspects of access: Direct control. This could include direct social control through supervision or the physical presence of other adults at all times, such as the ~chaperone. n It could also involve curfews, the requirement to limit the places one frequents or the time one arrives home, or access to the family automobile. Indirect limitation. Since sexual activity is intrinsically . rewarding for most youth most of the time, it is important to consider what other activities are available that provide alternative rewards to youth at risk. For example, sports, academics, music, clubs and organizations all provide alternative sources of rewards during adolescence. Grades in school are one indicator of rewards in academic pursuits, for example. What sorts of factors might limit access to alternatives? Direct physical control is mentioned above. However, other factors, biological, economic and social, might limit access to alternatives.

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14 Certain groups have limited access to certain resources, for example, low income families may not own an automobile. Lack of employment opportunities may be a limitation, as may a mental or physical handicap. Some authors (e.g., Chilman, 1983) also point to racism, sex ism and ethnocentrism as f actor s 1 imit ing alternatives. Individual opportunities for sexual intercourse may be limited indirectly as well. Degree of physical attractiveness or social maturity may limit the ability of a youth to attract a potential partner. Finally, the type of community in which a youth lives and the social groups in which he/she participates may affect opportunities for sexual involvement. RESEARCH RESULTS While the discussion of research results closely follows the model in Figure 1, the data presented do not cover all relationships shown in that model. In fact, the presentation and most research examined focuses on the relationship of each set of factors to sexual behavior, not to the intermediate sets of factors. Biological Factors There are substantial disagreements in the literature over the influence of many of the factors described above. Yet, there is almost universal agreement in the studies reviewed that early pubertal development (e.g., age at menarche for girls, level of pubertal development for boys) is associated with early initiation of sexual activity. This finding appears to hold net of other factors and also appears to hold using various measures of sexual activity, from masturbation to intercourse, including the frequency of such activity (Westney et al., 1983; Morris et al., 1982; Billy and Udry, 1985a; Udry, 1979; Zelnik et al., 1980~. There are two possible explanations for the association between level of pubertal development and sexual activity, particularly intercourse. The first is a strictly biological one. That is, the increase in hormonal levels at puberty cause increased sexual motivation and sex "drive. n This increased motivation leads to an increase in sexual activity. A second explanation is a social one. The development of secondary sex characteristics at puberty (breast development, hair growth, eta), act as a signal that the individual has matured and is ~ready" for sexual activity. In other words, pubertal development leads to sexual activity through its social interpretation, i.e. physical attractiveness to the opposite sex. Most research has been unable to distinguish between these two explanations of the association between pubertal development and sexual activity because the only measures of puberty were ratings of secondary sex characteristics (e.g., Tanner Scale) or, even more

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15 crudely, age at menarche or age at First wet dream. Unfortunately, the timing of such events relative to hormonal levels is not known precisely. Nor is the relationship between hormonal levels and sexual motivation known. A recent study obtained information on pubertal development, sexual motivation, and sexual behavior in questionnaires obtained from 102 white boys in ninth and tenth grades in selected schools in a southern city. In addition, serum samples were obtained and analyzed for a variety of serum androgenic hormones. Among these boys, hormonal levels appeared to explain the most variance in a variety of sexual behaviors, compared to other factors. In a model of sexual intercourse and masturbation for white males which included age, pubertal development (Tanner Scale) and level of serum androgenic hormones, only the hormonal influences {particularly free testos- terone) retained their effects while the other effects were reduced to zero {Udry et al., 1985~. This study provides strong evidence for the hormonal basis of sexual motivation and behavior in adolescent males. A comparable study was conducted on eighth, ninth and tenth grade females {Udry et al., 1986~. Hormonal levels have weak effects on sexual behavior, but stronger effects on motivation. That is, girls with higher hormonal levels showed increased interest in sex, but did not show increased sexual activity. Female sex interest is affected by the same types of hormones that affect male sex interest. As with males, hormonal levels appear to affect motivation directly. In a model including age, pubertal development and hormonal levels, only the hormonal influences retained their effects on certain aspects of sexual behavior and on sexual motivation. The fact that sexual motivation is not reflected in females' behavior to the extent that it is among males suggested that the actual behavior of females is influenced to a greater extent than that of males by their social environment. There are no comparable data for black males and females. Early work suggested that the association between pubertal development and sexual behavior was stronger for white than for black girls (Zelnik et al., 1980) and for white boys compared to black boys (Morris et al., 1982; Billy and Udry, 1985a). Age at first intercourse is lower for black males and females. Thus to study early sexual activity among blacks requires an even younger sample than one of junior high school students. In fact, a large portion of black males seem to initiate intercourse prior to puberty (Westney et al., 1983; Zabin, 1983~. This suggests a much larger influence of social environment for black males than for white males. Finally, even though there is a strong relationship between pubertal development, hormonal levels and sexual activity, the type of activity is very strongly socially determined. For females, sexual motivation does not necessarily translate into sexual activity. Not all males with high hormonal levels engage in sexual intercourse.

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Social factors do intervene in determining when and how males and females initiate sexual intercourse, given maturation. The way social factors mediate maturational factors becomes a very important question for males and females. Social Influences Culture/Subculture International differences. One underresearched area is that of international differences in the initiation of sexual intercourse. The major reason for lack of research is the lack of data in other countries on sexual activity and age at first intercourse. Two studies have focused on the fertility of teenagers in developed nations. Westoff et al. (1983) found substantial differences across developed nations in levels of childbearing among teenagers. A recent study (Jones et al., 1985) examined data for five countries (Canada, England and Wales, France, Netherlands and Sweden and found that at similar ages rates of sexual intercourse, among women are somewhat higher in Sweden than in the United States, quite similar in France, the Netherlands, England and Wales, and among older Canadians, but slightly lower among Canadian women in their early teens. To fully explain the range of differences in teen fertility, differences in sexual activity are crucial to ascertain. At the present time it is not possible to study the initiation of sexual activity in more than a handful of nations across even the developed countries. The chance of obtaining estimates of sexual activity for developing countries is even smaller. Information on age at initiation of sexual intercourse was not included in the World Fertility Survey, for example. Regional differences (U.S.~. The data show that, net of other factors, few regional diffferences in the probability of sexual activity are found. One study found black women 15 to 19 living in the south were more likely to have had intercourse than those living in other regions (Devaney and Hubley, 1981}, but this does not appear to be replicated in other studies. The most important regional dimension is urban-rural. However, the direction of the effect is not always clear. Although several studies have shown those living in metropolitan areas to be much more likely to say they have had sexual intercourse, compared to those living in non-metropolitan areas or on a farm {Devaney and Hubley, 1981), more recent studies do not find this to be significantly associated with ever having had intercourse (Most, 1984~. In fact, one recent analysis of nationally representative data collected by Kantner and Zelnik in 1976 (Billy, 1984) found that once a number of factors relating to sexual activity were controlled, young women in larger communities were less likely to report having experienced intercourse than those in smaller communities. Until it is better understood what urban-rural or community size represent, the relationship between this dimension and sexual intercourse among teens will remain ambiguous.

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17 Other community characteristics. Characteristics of communities other than size have been shown to be related to the probability of initiating sexual intercourse as a teenager. Hogan and Kitagawa (1985) found that black females age 15 to 19 living in a poverty area of Chicago had a much higher rate of initial sexual intercourse than peers not living in a poverty area. Besides community size (discussed above), Billy found that for both black and white females, the higher the percent in a community who voted for McGovern in 1972 the higher the likelihood of being sexually experienced. For white females, the greater the religiosity of the community, the lower the divorce rate and the lower the proportion of the civilian labor force female the lower the proportion sexually experienced. For black females, the greater the proportion of Spanish heritage, the younger the age of the conununity and the lower the crime rate the lower the proportion reporting sexual experience. Billy's analysis suggests that these variables affect adolescent sexual behavior via the normative structure (that is, they affect the specific attitudes and behaviors of youth) as well as via the opportunity structures in the community. The specific mechanists will be discussed in more detail in a later section. Religion. Religion is an important differentiator of early versus later initiators of sexual intercourse. However, the influence of religion appears to be due to the strength of religious beliefs and their practice rather than affiliation with a particular religious denomination. For example, several studies found that, controlling for a number of other factors, young women 15 to 19 who said religion was important to them and who attended church more frequently were less likely to have reported having had sexual intercourse (Devaney and Hubley, 1981: Zelnik et al., 1981, Mott, 1984~. In contrast, there was no difference between reporting a "Catholic" religious affiliation and reporting other affiliations (Devaney and Hubley, 1981~. Reporting no affiliation was associated with a higher proba- bility of initiating intercourse early (Most, 1984~. Unfortunately, in most of these studies religiosity is measured at the survey date; it may follow or be a consequence of rather than precede early sex. However given the number of studies of teenagers that show the restraining effects of religiosity on sexual activity (Inazu and Fox, 1980; Zelnik et al., 1981; Devaney and Hubley, 1981; Cvetkovich and Grote, 1980; Herold, 1980; Mott, 1984; Jessor and Jessor, 1975, 1983) it appears to be a reliable finding. In recent years a newly revived Protestant fundamentalism has gained a reputation for promoting very strong and often controversal, but always conservative stands on moral issues. Thus Catholicism may no longer be a good indicator of a conservative religious affiliation. In fact, one study of sexual activity among teenagers (Thornton and Camburn, 1983) found that adherents of fundamentalist Protestant de- nominations were significantly less likely to report having had sexual intercourse, compared to those affiliated with other denominations.

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25 daughter's sexual behavior as a teenager. Since mother's sexual activity could not have been modelled by the daughter, there is a substantial question as to what this relationship means. Is the association due to a biological relationship between the sexual maturation of mother and that of daughter (as argued by Newcomer and Udry, 1984) or to intervening attitudes, values, and, perhaps, to common experiences such as socioeconomic status level (Presser, 1976~? Inazu and Fox (1980) found that although there was a simple correlation between whether the mother had had a premarital pregnancy and whether or not the daughter was sexually active, this relationship disappeared when other factors such as race, age, family structure, religiosity, and quality of the mother-daughter relationship were controlled (Fox, 198Ob). This leads into a central issue, and that is the impact of family structure and composition on initiation of sexual activity by a teenager. Several studies have found that girls in non-intact or female-headed families are more likely than those in intact or male- headed families to initiate sexual activity early (Zelnik et al., 1980; Newcomer and Udry, 1983; Moore et al., 1984; Inazu and Fox, 19801. However, the mechanism by which non-intactness affects daughters' sexual activity is not known. Divorce may result in a stressful situation for the daughter and she may initiate sexual activity as a result (see, for example, McLanahan, 1983~. Change in marital status does not appear to precipitate girls' initiation of sexual activity; however, girls who had lived continuously with only their mother were more likely to initiate sexual activity (Newcomer and Odry, 1983~. An alternative explanation is that divorced or separated mothers engage in sex outside of marriage and this is observed by their daughters. For example, Inazu and Fox 1980) found that daughters whose mothers had cohabited during their lifetime were more likely to have initiated sexual intercourse early. Moore et al. (1984) found among white single mothers but not blacks that daughters of dating and remarried mothers t who presumably had been dating) were more likely to be sexually experienced. A third possible explanation is that of changing supervision, or a changed relationship with parents. If a mother goes to work after divorce, her opportunity to supervise her children may decline. In addition, the new burdens of employment plus the stresses and strains of divorce may weaken the relationship between mother and daughter. Inazo and Fox {1980) and Moore et al. (1984) found that girls with a close relationship to their mother were less likely to be sexually active. Supervision will be discussed later on. The results differ for boys. One study found that for white males sexual experience was more common among sons residing with their biological or adoptive father than with just the mother or with a mother and stepfather (Moore et al., 1984~. Sample sizes were small in this study, however. Another study found that, in contrast to the results for girls, boys were more likely to inititate sexual inter- course following a change in maternal marital status (Newcomer and Udry, 1983).

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26 Family composition, in particular, the number and ages of children, and the presence of other family members (adults and their children), is an important characteristic of families. Different numbers of children create different stresses and strains and could be expected to affect daughters differently from sons. The mechanism may be differential supervision, or closeness. An alternative mechanism may be simply modeling. The more sibs the more likely there will be an older sib who is premaritally sexually active, and this may serve as a model for younger sibs. For example, among black teen females, Hogan and Kitagawa (1985) found that, controlling for other factors such as socioeconomic status, daughters in very large families (more than 5 children) were more likely than those in smaller families (O to 5 children) to initiate sexual activity early. The same researchers also found that having a sister who is a teenager mother was associated with a significantly higher rate of initial sexual intercourse among black females 13 to 19 in 1979 (Hogan and Kitagawa, 1985~. This result is supported by a recent study which found that teenagers with pregnant sisters are themselves at increased risk of pregnancy (Friede et al., 1985). There is some evidence that the closeness of the mother-daughter relationship is associated with sexual activity. Inazu and Fox (1980) found that the less close the relationship between mother and daughter as reported by the daughter, the less likely the latter is to be sexually active. However, since adolescence is a time of testing one's independence and gradually growing away from parents, it is also possible that the decline in the mother-daughter relationship follows the initiation of sexual activity, rather than preceding or causing it. Alternatively, both decline in closeness and initiation of sexual intercourse could be caused by similar factors--increased independence. Jessor et al. (1983) and Mott (1983) have found a number of indicators of independence/ adulthood such as drug, cigarette and alcohol use to be associated with each other and with early sexual activity among teenagers. Substantial research has been conducted on the parent-child rela- tionship and on parent-child communication as it relates to initiation of sexual activity. Communication has an ambiguous relationship with initiation of sexual activity (Newcomer, 1983~. Although there is some evidence that a close mother-child relationship may be associated with less sexual activity at an early age (Inazu and Fox, 1980) there is also evidence that 1) less mother-daughter or mother-son communi- cation takes place than commonly assumed, 2) that such communication may not be heard by the child, and 3) that communication often takes place after initiation of sexual activity rather than before (Newcomer and Udry, 1983; Inazu and Fox, 1980, Fox and Inazu, 1980~. Thus communication may be associated with a higher degree of sexual activity rather than a lower degree. Many studies are unable to disentangle the relationship because they do not have measures of communication prior to initiation of sexual activity.

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27 A recent study (Kahn et al., 1984) that was able to distinguish between communication prior to and following sexual debut found no relationship between the frequency of communication about sexual topics (prior to debut) with the mother or father and the sexual activity of the daughter. For boys, communication with the mother was found to be associated with less subsequent sexual activity. However, communica- tion (for boys) with the father was associated with greater sexual activity. It is clear that the content of the communication about sexual topics differs substantially between fathers and mothers, for sons at least. What is communicated is at least as important as how much communication takes place, but has not been studied. It is likely that the father implicitly if not explicitly condones premarital sexual experimentation among sons, without the emphasis on responsi- bility and concern with the partner that the mother communicates {Kahn et al., 19841. Peer Group Probably the agent most n blamed. for increases in teen sexual activity over the last decade has been the peer group. However, substantive research on peer influence in the initiation of sexual activity has not been strong. As a result peer influence may have been heavily overrated as a source of increased sexual activity among teenagers, particularly among blacks and among white males {Chilman, 1983; Billy and Udry, 1985b,c). Although researchers have consistently found associations between the attitudes and behaviors of friends, the following types of problems have characterized the research: First, the same individual reports on his own and his/her perceptions of friends' attitudes and behavior without independent validation of friends' attitudes and behaviors. One study (Newcomer at al, 1980) found a high correlation between the individual's own behavior and the perceived behavior of the best same sex friend, and between the individual's own attitudes and the perceived attitudes of the best same sex friend, both for males and females. However, among females they found no relationship between the individual's own behavior and the actual behavior or attitudes of same sex best friend. For males, the individual's behavior is weakly associated with the actual behavior of same sex best friend, but not at all with actual friend attitudes. Although there is an association between perceived friend behavior and actual friend behavior for males and females, it is not very strong: .27 for girls and .48 for boys. It is stronger for boys than for girls, which explains the association for boys between behavior of best friends. There is no association at all between perceived attitudes of same sex best friend and actual friend attitude for males and females alike. In fact, the authors found that in most cases the responses of randomly paired n friends were associated as highly as those of actual friends. The authors concluded that individual be- havior and attitudes appear related more to what teenagers think their friends do and believe than what their friends actually do and believe. Of most concern is that these perceptions appear to be inaccurate.

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28 A second problem with the data on peer behavior is that the data are gathered at one point in time; as a result it is not possible to conclude that the characteristics of friends at one point in time had an effect on behavior/attitudes between that point and a later time point. Although influence may operate, an alternative hypothesis is that of selection: individuals select friends who are similar to them and discard friends who are different from them. Another alternative would be that other factors determine both the selection of friends and the types of sexual behaviors of adolescents. Of course, the fact that adolescents pick friends on the basis on their sexual activity means that they are affected by the behavior of friends; however, it affects their friendship behaviors, not their sexual behaviors. Recent research has attempted to better test the influence hypotheses through longitudinal studies in selected schools. In these schools students, who fill out questionnaires, identify friends by a code. Since all adolescents in these schools are surveyed, information is available on these friends from the questionnaires they themselves fill out. Finally, data are collected at several time points so that influences can be examined over time. Using this technique, Billy and Udry (1985b,c) found evidence that the sexual behavior of white girls is influenced by the behavior of their best male and female friends; that is, those who were virgins at the first time point were more likely to experience intercourse between waves of the survey if they had sexually experienced friends at the first wave than if they didn't. In contrast, white males appear to pick their friends on the basis of sexual activity rather than be influenced by friends' behavior. Blacks appear to neither be influenced by friends' sexual behavior nor to pick their friends on that basis {Billy and Udry, 1985b, c; Billy et al., 1984~. Davies and Handel {1981) studied the association between the aspirations and the respondent's best friend (as reported by the friend) and the respondent's own educational aspirations in a multi- variate causal model. While the association was signifficant for both sexes, it was two to three times larger for girls than for boys. The authors concluded that peer influences on educational aspirations are stronger for girls than for boys. Although the focus of this study is not sexual activity, the differences in peer influences are stringing. They confirm previous evidence from big-behavioral studies showing major sex differences in the process of becoming sexually active. Another study (Lewis and Lewis, 1984) shows that children are often challenged by "dares" from peers to engage in risk-taking behavior, and about one-third of older children actually did what they were dared to do. Among 7th and 8th graders, boys were dared to perform acts of vandalism or violence while girls were dared to engage in various sexual acts, ranging from a kiss to sexual intercourse. So far the discussion has been primarily about friends of the same sex. What about friends of the opposite sex and dating? Work by Billy

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29 and Udry (1985b) shows that best male friends do influence females' sexual activity. However, the authors were not able to determine whether that friend was, in fact, a sexual partner of the female. In contrast to this recent work, much early research focused on sex and dating. Not surprisingly, age at first date and at first sexual inter- course are associated. Data from the National Survey of Young Women found that sexual activity is strongly connected to the dating relationship {Tables 1.9 and 1.10~. However, as pointed out in recent work (e.g., Udry et al., 1985), dating is an age-graded behavior. Nearly all youth in one study reported "having gone out with girls, regardless of hormonal levels or levels of sexual activity. Other research shows little relationship between pubertal development and dating (Dornbusch et al., 1981; Presser, 19781. In addition, a substantial amount of sexual intercourse occurs outside the dating relationship. About half of males 17 to 21 reported that they had experienced first sexual intercourse with a friend or a casual acquaintance, outside what they perceived to be a dating relationship (Table 1.9~. In their study of low income blacks in Baltimore, Zabin et al. (1983) found that a large proportion of black males--61 per- cent--and a somewhat smaller proportion of black females-- 13 per- cent--reported having first had intercourse before puberty. The meaning of such behavior is unclear. Among blacks, in contrast to whites, there appears to be no Guthman scale of sexual behavior, that is, with youth progressing gradually from less to more intimate activities. Sexual intercourse occurs early in the sequence. It is followed by petting and other sexual behaviors earlier in the scale for whites (Smith and Udry, 1985~. A common belief is that one reason some g iris become sexually active is that they can't say no to a boyfriend. Although some research has found this to be true for girls (Cvetkovich and Grote, 1980), it also appears to be true for some boys--each may be trying to please the other (C~etkovich and Grate, 19807. Another study (Herold, 1980) found that a major reason some women had not yet become sexually active was that they hadn't found the right person or that the oppor- tunity hadn't arisen. It was not beliefs that delayed sexual debut (although religious persons were less likely to initiate sex) as much as alternatives and opportunities that affected when young women became sexually active (Herold, 1980~. The differences in religiosity between persons who had not yet had sex, but would and those who were non-virgins were relatively small. "Adamant virgins. were different (they had stronger moral beliefs against sexual intercourse outside of marriage)(Herold, 19801. Intervening Factors: Relationship Between Attitudes/Values and Sexual Behavior This section focuses on the Outcomes part of Figure 1, in par- ticular the association between characteristics of the child (person- ality, attitudes, values, n tastes," IQ) and sexual behavior. The

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30 major question is what characteristics distinguish adolescents who initiate sexual intercourse at an early age and those who don't? Although some of the earliest work on adolescents was framed in terms of characteristics of adolescents associated with early parenting, this approach has not proven very fruitful. The association between psychological characteristics and early parenting is attenuated because of the multiple "decision pointsn at which the connection between sexual activity and parenting can be interrupted: contracep- tion can be used, a pregnancy can be aborted, and, finally, a child can be given up for adoption. Thus associations were weak and the interpretation of such associations were unclear. It is only relatively recently that researchers have had available the information necessary to examine each of the "decision points" in turn. As a result, there are relatively few studies of psychological factors associated with early sexual activity. Two major studies in this area are those of Jessor et al. (1983) and Cvetkovich and Grote (19807. Cvetkovich and Grote (1980) proposed a set of psychological traits and attitudes, hypothesized that they might be related to early initiation of sexual activity {and to effective contraception) and tested them in a study of white teen males and females in a small Northwest U.S. community. These researchers found for both males and females, white and non-white, that those who are sexually experienced not only are more sexually liberal, but are more likely to accept traditional family sex roles--that is, they are "liberal but not liberated" {Cvetkovich and Grote, 1980~. Those sexually experienced are less likely to see religion as important (all females, white males), and are more likely to report inconsistent rule enforcement by mothers (white females), and to desire strongly to please the partner (females). The sexually experienced also see their friends as sexually liberal (white males and females). Thus the factors that were found to be related to early initiation of sexual activity appear to be attitudes and values related to the family and sexuality, the perceived attitudes and values of friends, parental control as reported by the child, and desire for companionship. Unfortunately, these researchers did not have data available both before and after the transition to intercourse. A study by Jessor et al. is one of the few to be able to be able to examine youth before and after first intercourse. Jessor et al. (1983) examined the factors associated with sexual debut among high school students in a small Rocky Mountain state community, tracked in high school and then a decade later. The researchers found several personality measures associated with early onset of sexual intercourse. In particular, men and women who placed a higher value on and expecta- tion for independence and a lower value on and expectation for academic achievement, who were more socially critical, more tolerant of deviance and less religious experienced intercourse earlier than their peers. Those who perceived less compatibility between parents and friends, less parental influence relative to that of friends, and more social approval and models for problem behavior also experienced sexual debut

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31 early relative to peers. Finally, those who experienced sexual inter- course earlier were already involved before that experience with other problem behaviors, such as smoking, drug and alcohol use, and less involved in conventional behavior such as attendance at churche One of the most important factors in determining whether a young man or woman will initiate sexual intercourse at a young age or not is his/her level of intelligence and achievement. Mott {1984) found the higher a measure of intelligence {the Armed Forces Qualification Test) the lower the probability that a young woman would report having had sexual intercourse before age 17. The higher her expectations for schooling beyond high school the lower the probability that she would have sexual intercourse before age 17. An earlier analysis by Mott (1983) indicated that the results were similar for males 17 to 20--the higher the score on the AFQT and the higher the educational expecta- tions, the lower the probability of having had intercourse in the last month. Other researchers who have found high educational expectations to be associated with a lower probability of initiating sexual inter- course early include Devaney and Hubley {1981), Hogan and Kitagawa, (1985), and Furstenberg (1976~. In these studies, parental socio- economic status was controlled. One variable of interest in a number of studies is n self-esteem.. "Self-esteem" does not appear to be related to the initiation of sexual intercourse (Most, 1983; Cvetkovich and Grote, 1980~. One of the major problems with studies of the initiation of sexual activity is the uncertain direction of the relationship between attitudes or values and initiation of sexual activity. Since many researchers are not able to interview young men and women prior and then subsequent to initiating sexual activity, they cannot determine whether attitudes follow the initiation of sexual activity or cause it. This is impossible to disentangle without longitudinal data. As a result, very little is actually known about the attitudes and values of teenagers that are associated with beginning sex at an early age, although there is recent evidence (Jessor et al., 1983) that there are substantial attitudinal and value differences between early and later initiators prior to first intercourse. Intervening Factors: Relationship between Social Context and Individual Beliefs and Attitudes This section focuses on the process by which psychosocial agents identified on the right in Figure 1 affect outcomes, particularly the first box--child personality, attitudes, values, tastes and intelli- gence. The processes considered here are two: socialization and development. The focus will be on socialization for sexual activity and fertility. (For a more complete discussion, see Chilman, 1983~.

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32 Soc ial ization One of the earliest and most inf luential works in this area is the soc iolog ical model of sexuality developed by Gagnon and S Anon ( 1973 ~ . This model posits an almost totally social def inition of sexuality: sexuality is not developed except through a process of societal defini- tion. The most important recent work in this area was conducted by Philliber (1980a, 1980b) in her model of population socialization, which includes socialization for sexual activity as well as for child- bearing and childrearing. Philliber lays out the agents of socializa- tion, the mechanisms, and some of the content of this socialization. Her focus was mainly on socialization for childbearing. Other re- searchers (Fox et al., 1982; Billy and Udry, 1983a; Thornton and Camburn, 1983) have elaborated on this type of framework in their analyses of the initiation of sexual activity. The same researchers (Fox, 1980a,b; Newcomer and Udry, 1984, 1985b) have explored the content of the mother-child interaction and its impact on the attitudes and behavior of the child. Billy and Udry (1985b,c) and Billy et al. {1984), in addition, have explored the relationship between the attitudes and behaviors of best friends and their influence on the individual's behavior. In general, most of this research does show an impact of parental values, attitudes, and behavior on their children's attitudes and behavior; however, in many cases the children's attitudes and be- haviors are more strongly related to their perceptions of parental attitudes and behaviors than to actual parental attitudes. These perceptions are, of course, filtered through the child's own per- ceptions and attitudes, and may have a very low relationship to actual parental attitudes and values. Tn some areas parental and child attitudes are very similar; in the area of sexual permissiveness and attitudes toward amount of independence children should have, these attitudes are very far apart (See Thornton and Camburn, 1983; Newcomer and Udry, 1984; Newcomer, 1985b; and discussion earlier in this chapter) . There is substantial literature suggesting that certain types of childrearing patterns--.authoritative. as opposed to Authoritarian or ~ permiss ive" are assoc fated with the development of autonomous and responsible children (Baumrind, 1984~. This work has not yet been directly linked to teen sexual activity, however. Billy (1984) hypothesized two mechanisms whereby community level factors affect adolescent sexual involvement: through a normative structure defining boundaries of permissable sexual behavior and 2) through an opportunity structure which is restrictive or permissive of sexual activity. He found evidence for the operation of both mechanisms. For white females, religiosity of the community, percent voting for McGovern, and percent of the labor force female appeared to affect sexual activity through individual attitudes and values. That is, the individual internalizes community norms, which affect her own

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33 behavior. The direct negative effect of community size on intercourse is attributed to the effect of opportunity structure, which restricts the opportunity in small communities to engage in sexual intercourse. Apparently, while for whites there was a substantial correspondence between community and individual attitudes and behavior, this was not the case for blacks. This lack of congruence may simply reflect their minority status, i.e., ~community" values may be those of the white majority. The model for black females was less successful in explaining the impacts of community structure, primarily because individual attitudes and values were hard to identify and measure. For blacks, living in a politically liberal community (percent voting for McGovern) was not associated with liberal attitudes at the individual level, although it was associated with lower religiosity, less family stability and less organizational involvement, all of which increase the probability of premarital intercourse. The data on which this research is based were collected in 1976, period of rapid social change, and are now ten years old. Since the study is an interesting exploration of factors that explain the influence of psychosocial agents on sexual behavior, it should be replicated with more recent data. Cognitive and Moral Development Adolescents are said to have a higher level of cognitive develop- ment than children (Piaget, 1972~. Yet compared to most adults, younger adolescents are said to rarely reason logically in cost-benefit terms. They are said to be particularly egocentric, present oriented, and to believe that they have a special immunity to danger, including unwanted pregnancies (Chilman, 1983~. A number of theorists have explained early sexual activity and non-use of contraception by teens as irrational behavior due to their lower level of cognitive develop- ment. However, no studies have ever examined the costs and benefits of sexual activity for teens, so it would appear premature to conclude that it is irrational. In addition, a recent study (Jones et al., 1985) of several European nations suggests that teenagers are capable of using contraception adequately, given appropriate instruction and support for its use. Sexual intercourse is a normal adult activity. Where it fits in the human developmental process has not been , adequately researched. Utility/Reward Structure The final part of the model is that of the individual's opportunity structure. This includes evaluations of the consequences of different actions and, as a result, the attractiveness of different options available to the individual. There are three studies that have begun to look at this process: Udry, 1978; Philliber et al., 1983; and

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34 Adler, 1982. Philliber's and Adler's studies focus on contraceptive use, and will be considered in a later paper. One important assumption underlying these studies is that an individual's likelihood to engaging in some activity will be determined by his or her evaluation of the expected positive and negative outcomes of the behavior. If the posi- tive outcomes outweigh the negative outcomes or costs, the individual will engage in the activity (if the opportunity arises); if negative outcomes outweigh positive outcomes, the individual will not engage in that activity. Thus much of this recent research focuses on measuring the individual's expectations of outcomes from different behaviors and then measuring the association of these expectations with actual actions the individual takes. The only study that uses this model to study sexual behavior is one by Bauman and Udry (1981), but these researchers use the concept of ~utility" instead of value. Bauman and Udry (1981) found that the Subjective expected utility" (SEW) of sexual activity is correlated with sexual behavior. That is, those who expect to get the most out of sex are those who are more likely to engage in intercourse. Males have more positive SEU for sex than females. Black males have more positive SEU for sex than white males. Black and white females do not differ in SEU for sex. These results certainly make intuitive sense and fit with data that show black males with the highest and all females with the lowest proportion sexually experienced. This approach has not yet been tested for its predictive power, however. Access to Alternatives Direct control. One interesting difference between teenagers and their parents In values/norms is that teenagers think that their parents will agree with the statement that The sexual behavior of teenagers is their own business and no one else's. much more fre- quently than parents actually do (Newcomer and Udry, 1985b). That is, teenagers perceive they have a right to more sexual privacy than parents perceive they do. This is not a surprise. One of the time honored ways of attempting to control children is through physical control over their behavior and most teenagers are still living at home. It is interesting, therefore, that the relationship between parental supervision/control and initiation of sexual activity is not clear-cut in the data. Hogan and Kitagawa {1985) found in a sample of black teenage girls that more supervision was associated with less sexual activity. Inazu and Fox (1980), and Newcomer and Udry (1984), in contrast, found that more supervision was not related to initiation of sexual activity. Of course, supervision can be low due to laxness or to lack of need. This cannot be determined with the data so far. Related but more indirect evidence comes from an examination of the effect of the employment of the mother outside the home. Presumably, employed mothers have less control over their teenage daughters' activities than mothers who are not employed outside the home. Thornton and Camburn (1983) found a positive but nonsignificant impact of full-time employment of the mother on whether or not a teenager had

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35 ever had intercourse. Moore et al. (1984) found that for white but not black females age 15 to 16 in 1981, there was no different in sexual experience between those whose mother was employed and those whose mother was not employed. However, among those whose mother was employed, those who were left in their own supervision while their mother worked were more likely to be sexually experienced than those who were supervised by someone else. This analysis is based on a small number of cases, however; similar results were not found for black females or for males. In addition, a simple question as to whether the parent always knew where the child was did not distinguish sexually experienced from inexperienced girls. Without knowing more about the degree and type of supervision and the amount and type of sexual activity, it is not really possible to make any generalizations about the impact of parental supervision. More work is needed on this issue, since it is one over which parents have some control. Indirect limitation. Finally, what are the alternatives teenagers have to sexual activity? One of the most important questions would have to be the quality of the parent-child relationship. Presumably a close parent-child relationship would reduce the need for a child to seek love and companionship freer an opposite sex peer at an early age. Of course, the teen years are the time of increased independence from parents. Some teens are more mature than others and begin the process earlier. But the quality of the relationship has generally been posited to have a delaying impact on initiation of sexual activity. Inazu and Fox (1980) and Moore et al. (1984) found some evidence for this in their research. Given the importance of independence in the teen years, such a close relationship may not be sufficient. What other activities and rewards that compete with sexual activity are available to the teen- ager? This is one area in which apparently no research has been conducted. Such research could be critical in sorting out the importance of community level factors on the initiation of sexual activity, since social context probably affects available alternatives as well as attitudes and values of children. This is represented in Figure 1 by the arrows going directly to the alternatives and oppor- tunities box from the psychosocial agents. (Watching television is one actitivity that apparently is very important to teenagers.) Finally, alternatives and reward structures are probably closely related, since an individual can evaluate only those options available. However, the type of association is unknown; the curved double-headed arrow in Figure 1 indicates correlation, not cause.