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Race Differences in the Timing of Adolescent Intercourse


Furstenberg, Frank F., Jr.; Morgan, S. Philip; Moore, Kristin A.; & Peterson, James L. (1987). Race Differences in the Timing of Adolescent Intercourse. American Sociological Review, 52(4), 511-8.


Researchers have long been aware of sizable racial differences in the prevalence and timing of premarital sexual behavior. In a national sample of youth aged 15-16, blacks are roughly four times more likely than whites to report ever having intercourse. We consider (1) a demographic composition explanation that stresses differential socioeconomic position; (2) an explanation that focuses on the consequences of low socioeconomic position, a higher incidence of female-headed households, or differences in school performance or educational aspirations; and (3) a contextual explanation based on differences in subgroup attitudes or norms. Results provide limited support for the demographic composition argument and stronger support for a contextual subgroup argument. Blacks in predominately black classrooms are much more likely to report ever having intercourse. We further identify some attitudinal differences between whites, blacks, and blacks in racially homogeneous school settings that could characterize different normative contexts.


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Journal Article

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American Sociological Review


Furstenberg, Frank F., Jr.
Morgan, S. Philip
Moore, Kristin A.
Peterson, James L.

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