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Brewster, Karin L. (1994). Race Differences in Sexual Activity among Adolescent Women: The Role of Neighborhood Characteristics. American Sociological Review, 59, 408-424.


In this study, I explore the role of neighborhood characteristics in determining race differences in the nonmarital sexual activity of adolescents. I use individual- and aggregate-level data to examine the association between race differences in the risk of intercourse and selected neighborhood characteristics in a national sample of adolescent women. The impact of neighborhood characteristics on the race difference in sexual activity is posited to be a function of the pervasive racial segregation characterizing housing patterns in the United States. The results suggest that the race difference in the risk of first intercourse reflects race differences in access to economic resources and exposure to successful adult role models. The absence of cross-level race interactions indicates that black and white teenage women respond similarly to structural constraints and opportunities.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

American Sociological Review


Brewster, Karin L.