Premarital Sex and Schooling Transitions in Four Sub-Saharan African Countries

Ann E. Biddlecom, Guttmacher Institute
Richard Gregory
Cynthia B. Lloyd, Population Council
Barbara S Mensch, Population Council

With the spread of formal schooling in sub-Saharan Africa and reduction in early marriage, more adolescents remain enrolled in school when they “come of age.” Using data from the 2004 National Survey of Adolescents in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Malawi and Uganda, this paper investigates the timing of school exit and premarital sex among those enrolled in school at age 12. Discrete time hazards models show that girls are more likely to leave school before completing primary and secondary and, among those completing primary, less likely to progress to secondary, although those who complete primary do so at the same age or younger than boys. In general, girls appear more vulnerable to dropout once they become sexually mature and engage in premarital sex. While girls were less likely to have had premarital sex (except in Ghana), school enrollment and the timing of school entry did not consistently explain gender differences.

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Presented in Session 172: Gender, Neigbors, Family and School