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The socio-political context of migration and reproductive health disparities: The case of early sexual initiation among Mexican-origin immigrant young women

Coleman-Minahan, Kate. (2017). The socio-political context of migration and reproductive health disparities: The case of early sexual initiation among Mexican-origin immigrant young women. Social Science & Medicine, 180, 85-93.

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Prior research often explains the lower risk of early sexual initiation among foreign-born Mexican-origin young women by a patriarchal and sexually conservative “traditional Latino culture.” This definition overlooks structural factors such as exploitation of migrant workers, and conflates gender inequality and sexual expectations. I use an intersectional framework and the theory of gender and power to explore how gender inequality and sexual expectations are both influenced by structural factors and affect reproductive health outcomes. I integrate data from qualitative interviews with 21 first and second generation Mexican-origin women in 2013–2014 with data from discrete time hazard models with 798 Mexican-origin young women in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health. Qualitative results demonstrate that gender inequality and sexual expectations in Mexican-origin immigrant households are associated with structural factors. Gender inequality occurs more often in households with family instability, greater poverty, and among parents who migrated independently. Qualitative data also demonstrate that parental gendered expectations are sometimes at odds to what parents are actually doing in the household. Finally, contrary to assumptions that a patriarchal “traditional Latino culture” protects against early sexual initiation, qualitative and multivariate quantitative data suggest that household gender inequality increases risk of early sexual initiation. These findings challenge the utility of a culturalist approach that views culture as determining health behavior among immigrants and demonstrate the need to incorporate an intersectional framework that includes structural factors. This approach may reduce stereotypes and identify meaningful interventions to reduce reproductive health disparities.


USA
Adolescents
Reproductive health
Mexican-origin immigrants
Gender
Sexual initiation


JOUR



Coleman-Minahan, Kate



2017


Social Science & Medicine

180


85-93






0277-9536

10.1016/j.socscimed.2017.03.011



6888