Adolescent sexual onset: An intergenerational analysis

Katherine A. Johnson, Kimberly A. Tyler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Adolescents have begun to initiate sexual activity at increasingly early ages in the past few decades. Using a sample of 2,494 adolescents from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY97), structural and parental process variables were examined in the prediction of sexual onset. Results indicated that the age at which youth initiate sexual intercourse is related to the structural characteristics of their grandmothers and mothers, as well as puberty, gender, and race. There is support for partial mediation of the effects of these grandmother characteristics via mother characteristics and parental process. Results are discussed within the framework of the life course perspective and provide support for the importance of previous generations in the explanation of adolescent sexual behavior. Implications for families and adolescents are also addressed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)939-949
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Youth and Adolescence
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 2007


  • Adolescents
  • Intergenerational transmission
  • Parental processes
  • Sexual onset

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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