Neighborhood Influences and the Sexual Behavior of Young Black South Africans

Susan M Lee-Rife, University of Michigan
Sarah A. Burgard, University of Michigan

Most existing research concerning neighborhood influences on young people’s behavior has been conducted in the United States, with its particular social and economic context. We examine the influence of community characteristics on the sexual behavior of young Blacks in South Africa, a transforming nation emerging from decades of institutionalized racism, and investigates whether these influences differ by gender. We find that community social disorder reduces the age of sexual debut and that concentrated disadvantage and community physical disorder increases condom non-use. Furthermore, we find that young females are more likely to begin sexual activity in neighborhoods with higher levels of social disorder and males are somewhat more likely to delay their sexual debut in neighborhoods with higher levels of collective efficacy. We discuss these results in light of previous work on neighborhood effects in the US and the backdrop of the HIV epidemic in South Africa.

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