Early adolescent sexual activity: A developmental study

Les B. Whitbeck, Kevin A. Yoder, Dan R. Hoyt, Rand D. Conger

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

144 Scopus citations


This study uses event history analysis to examine predictors of early sexual intercourse for a sample of 457 adolescents in grades 8 through 10 from two-parent and single-mother families. We ran panels for each predictor variable when controlling only for family structure, pubertal development, gender, and grade level to assess changes in influence of individual predictors across time. A full model consisting of all statistically significant predictor variables and interactions was then run to determine the most influential predictors across time. Results indicate significant decrease in the effect of mother monitoring by 10th grade. We also found significant interactions for gender: time devoted to school activities and homework delayed becoming sexually active for young women but not young men. Similarly, depressed affect increased the likelihood of early intercourse among young women but not young men. Results for the full model indicated that when controlling for all other influences, the primary predictors of early intercourse were age, opportunity (being in steady relationship), sexually permissive attitudes, association with delinquent peers, and alcohol use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)934-946
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Marriage and Family
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescent
  • Sexual intercourse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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