Adolescents’ Transition to First Intercourse, Religiosity and Attitudes about Sex

Meier, Ann
Working paper no. 2001-02


Using two waves of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, this study examines two sets of relationships between attitudes, religiosity and first sex among adolescents. First, I estimate the effects of religiosity and attitudes about sex on the likelihood of engaging in first sex. Then, I estimate the effect of having sex on subsequent religiosity and attitudes. The findings are consistent with past research that finds attitudes are a significant predictor of sexual activity. The effect of religiosity on first sex is mediated by attitudes about sex. Regarding reciprocal effects, having sex for the first time has a significant effect on later attitudes, but not religiosity. This study highlights the importance of going beyond traditional, recursive models that consider only one side of a causal relationship.