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Sexual Intercourse and the Age Difference between Adolescent Females and Their Romantic Partners

Christine E. Kaestle, Donald E. Morisky and Dorothy J. Wiley
Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health
Vol. 34, No. 6 (Nov. - Dec., 2002), pp. 304-309
Published by: Guttmacher Institute
DOI: 10.2307/3097749
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3097749
Page Count: 6
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Sexual Intercourse and the Age Difference between Adolescent Females and Their Romantic Partners
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Abstract

CONTEXT: The age difference between a female and her partner may influence relationship dynamics in ways that put the female at increased risk of unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. Very little is known, however, about how romantic involvement progresses to intercourse, particularly among adolescent females with older male partners. METHODS: Data from 1,975 female participants in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health were analyzed using logistic regression to determine whether the age difference between an adolescent female and her romantic partner is a risk factor for sexual intercourse. RESULTS: Adolescent females involved with an older partner have higher odds of having intercourse with that partner than females with partners their own age, after adjustment for demographic covariates. The magnitude of this association is most dramatic among the youngest females-for example, the odds of intercourse among 13-year-old females with a partner six years older are more than six times the odds among 13-year-old females with a same-age partner (odds ratio, 6.4), while 17-year-old females with partners six years older have about twice the odds of intercourse when compared with those who have a same-age partner (2.1). CONCLUSIONS: Young adolescent females with substantially older partners are much more likely than their peers to have sex with their partner, which exposes them to the risks of pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

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