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Cooksey, Elizabeth C.; Rindfuss, Ronald R.; & Guilkey, David K. (1996). The Initiation of Adolescent Sexual and Contraceptive Behavior during Changing Times. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 37(1), 59-74.


This paper examines changes in the initiation of adolescent sexual and contraceptive behavior in the United States between 1978 and 1988. Since a number of contextual changes occurred during this time period including a focusing of public attention on adolescent pregnancy along with the widespread publicity surrounding AIDS, we expected that the response to these events not only would change over time, but would also vary across social groups. Using data from Cycles III and IV of the National Survey of Family Growth, we find that the overall population patterns of earlier initiation of sexual intercourse and increased use of condoms at first intercourse are not found in all segments of the population. In general, the effects of race, religion, mother's education, and age changed during this time period. The long-term trend of younger age at first intercourse was halted for Blacks, and reversed for White, fundamentalist Protestants, but continued for all other Whites. Overall, patterns throughout the decade suggest that pressures from parents, religious groups, and others either lead to a later age at first intercourse, or use of contraception, but not both. A notable exception is that increased maternal education leads to both a later age at first intercourse and a higher likelihood of using contraception at first intercourse.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Journal of Health and Social Behavior


Cooksey, Elizabeth C.
Rindfuss, Ronald R.
Guilkey, David K.