Educational Careers and Delayed First Sexual Intercourse: The Italian Paradox

Francesco C. Billari, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research
Maria Castiglioni, University of Padova
Dalla Zuanna Gianpiero, University of Padua
Marzia Mancin, University of Padova

In Western countries, age at first intercourse has usually decreased over time. Italy is an exception to this trend. Italy is also at the lower end of the distribution of developed countries by adolescent birth, abortion and pregnancy rates, with the U.S. at the other end. In this paper, we stress the role of educational careers in delaying first intercourse. While in the U.S. most adolescents have sex before graduating from High School, this is not the case in Italy. On survey data, we apply discrete-time event history models. We show that young adults enrolled in education postpone their first intercourse. When controlling for educational enrolment, those who have very low level of education postpone first intercourse. The effect of educational level is inverse-U shaped, especially in the case of women. The sex ratio in the educational institutions where young adults are enrolled has the expected effect.

Presented in Session 139: Adolescent Reproductive Health in Developed Countries