Education and the Timing of Sexual Initiation and Marriage in Rural Malawi: A Longitudinal Analysis of the Effect of Grade Attainment, School Dropout and Math and Literacy Skills

Erica Soler-Hampejsek, Population Council
Barbara S. Mensch, Population Council
Paul C. Hewett, Population Council

While early marriage has declined in Sub-Saharan Africa in recent years, premarital sex has increased. Women’s level of education has been documented to be strongly and positively associated with age at first marriage in the region. Moreover, girls enrolled in school are less likely to engage in premarital sex than those out-of-school, although this appears not to be the case for boys. In this study, we examine the effect of education — including grade attainment, school dropout and math and literacy skills — on the timing of sexual initiation and marriage using a longitudinal adolescent survey conducted in rural Malawi. The analysis will estimate multiple decrement tables for sexual initiation before and within marriage and will use hazard models to explore the effects of education on age at first sex for males and females, and marriage for females. Finally, a joint model to account for potential endogeneity will be estimated.

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Presented in Session 162: The Context and History of Adolescent Sexual Behavior Trends