Associations between premarital sex and leaving school in four Sub-Saharan African countries

Case Studies & Research
Population Council
13 p.
Periodical title
Studies in Family Planning. Special issue on adolescent sexual and reproductive health in Sub-Saharan Africa. Special issue based on a seminar of the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population

This study is an article extracted from "Studies in Family Planning", special issue on "Adolescent sexual and reproductive health in Sub-Saharan Africa", published in December 2008. As formal schooling spreads within sub-Saharan Africa, a growing proportion of adolescents remain enrolled in school when they "come of age". As a consequence more and more adolescents have to negotiate sexual maturation and sexual initiation in a different context than from that of counterparts in prior generations. Using data from the 2004 National Survey of Adolescents conducted in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Malawi and Uganda, the authors investigated the empirical association between premarital sex and leaving school among those who were enrolled in school at the outset of adolescence. Discrete-time logistic regression models show that, in general, girls are more likely than boys to leave school before completing secondary school, before completing primary school, and, among those completing primary school, before processing to secondary school. Girls who complete primary school, however, do so at the same age as or a younger age than their male peers. Girls appear more vulnerable to leaing school once they engage in premarital sex. These findings can assist researchers, policymakers, program managers, and educators in understanding and addressing the challenges to educational attainment posed by the increasing proportion of school-aged adolescents engaging in premarital sex.

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