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Citation Information

Type Journal Article - Population and Societies
Title At what age do women and men have their first sexual intercourse? World comparisons and recent trends
Author(s)
Volume 391
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2003
URL http://www.popline.org/node/250513
Abstract
The age and conditions of sexual debut are a long-neglected focus of study. It was assumed, often rightly for females, that sexual initiation did not occur until marriage. The first surveys of these issues in both developed and developing countries came in the 1990s as a response to various developments. Marriage, or first union formation, is increasingly late in many countries of the world [1], and increasingly informal in developed countries, which sets the stage for a decoupling of sexual initiation from the start of conjugal life. Also the spreading AIDS epidemic prompts interest in the sexual initiation of young people as a risk group. The conditions of entry into sexual life are a social issue, as they are also evidence of how young people will assume the adult roles assigned to them. Changes in the timing of sexual initiation and its dwindling link with marriage in recent birth cohorts point to a relaxation of direct adult control over young people, but also to the possible emergence of new gender relations.

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