The Transition of Adolescent Girls to First Sexual Intercourse: Premarital or within a Union? Evidence from Four Sub-Saharan African Countries

Guiella Georges, Université de Montréal

The transition of adolescent girls to first sexual intercourse is a crucial moment arrived at along different pathways. Going beyond the usual dichotomy of sexual experienced versus inexperienced adolescents, we focus on the roles played by individual and contextual factors to provide insight into teenagers’ sexual behavior. Using data from nationally representative surveys, we assess the factors associated with adolescent girls’ sexual initiation in four sub-Saharan African countries: Burkina Faso, Ghana, Malawi, and Uganda. We use the life-table approach as well as discrete-time trinomial logit regression to analyze the association between entry into first sex and girls’ socio-demographic and contextual characteristics. Findings show very different patterns in adolescent girls’ sexual initiation across the four countries. They also suggest that if girls’ sexual initiation cannot be avoided or delayed, it is better that it occurs within a union.

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Presented in Session 100: Adolescent Fertility and Reproductive Health in Africa