Educational Attainment in Emerging Adulthood: Links with Sexual Debut Timing

Aubrey Spriggs, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Carolyn Tucker Halpern, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Educational attainment is an important determinant of population well-being. While some adolescent risk behaviors are negatively associated with educational outcomes, how sexual debut timing relates is unclear. Data from Waves I, II and III of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (n=4,351) were analyzed to assess: (1) the association between post-adolescent educational attainment and sexual debut timing, and (2) association moderation by race/ethnicity and gender. Although in bivariate analyses persons reporting early (age <16) and typical (age 16-18) adolescent sexual debut evidenced lower educational attainment than those with post-adolescent sexual debut, after control for background characteristics, only early debut timing remained negatively associated with educational outcomes. Associations between debut timing and educational attainment did not vary by race/ethnicity; however, females with typical adolescent debut timing evidenced worse educational outcomes than males with typical timing. Sexual debut during adolescence is not uniformly negatively associated with emerging adult educational attainment.

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Presented in Session 142: Emerging Knowledge about Sexual Behavior in Diverse Settings