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What has happened to premarital sexual behaviour as age at marriage has risen? A life table analysis of DHS data

Barbara Mensch, Population Council
Ann K. Blanc, Blancroft Research International
Monica J. Grant, University of Pennsylvania

During the last 30 years substantial reductions have occurred in the proportion of young women married in most regions of the developing world. While human rights advocates welcome the decline in early marriage, if it leads to a rise in premarital sex and an increase in multiple partnerships, one possible consequence of such a postponement is an increase in HIV infection. Have the proportions of young women reporting premarital sex increased as age at marriage has risen? Or, has the change in marriage timing had no effect on premarital sexual behaviour? In this paper we will investigate the links between changing age at marriage and premarital sexual behaviour using Demographic and Health Survey data from 24 countries with two surveys conducted at least 6 years apart since 1990. The analysis uses multiple decrement life tables to model the competing risks of premarital sex and marriage (without prior premarital sex).

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Presented in Session 12: Sexual behaviour and sexuality