English title: Macro-Level Age Norms for the Timing of Sexual Initiation and Adolescents' Early Sexual Initiation in 17 European Countries

Author(s): Aubrey, S. Madkour - Margaretha de Looze - Ping Ma - Carolyn, T. Halpern - Tilda Farhat - Tom ter Bogt - Virgine Ehlinger - Saoirse Nic Gabhainn - Candace Currie - Emannuelle Godeau -

Language: English

Type: Journal article

Year: 2014


Purpose: To examine the relationship between country-level age norms for sexual initiation timing and early sexual initiation (ESI) among adolescent boys and girls. Methods: Nationally representative data from 17 countries that participated in the 2006/2007 European Social Survey (ESS-3, n = 33,092) and the 2005/2006 Health Behaviour in School-Aged Children Study (HBSC, n = 27,702) were analyzed. Age norms were measured as the average country-level response to an item asking the age at which ESS respondents believed someone is too young to have sexual intercourse. HBSC respondents (aged 14–16 years) self-reported age at sexual initiation, which we defined as early (<15 years) or not early (=15 years or no initiation). Control variables included age, family affluence, perceived socioeconomic status, family living arrangement, substance use, school attachment, and country-level legal age of consent. Multivariable three-level logistic models with random intercepts were run separately by sex. Results: In multivariable analyses, higher overall age norms were associated with reduced likelihood of ESI among girls (AOR .60, 95% CI .45–.79); associations with ESI were stronger for parent cohort (ages 31–65 years) norms (AOR .37, 95% CI .23–.58) than for peer cohort (ages 15–20 years) norms (AOR .60, 95% CI .49–.74). For boys, overall norms were also significantly negatively associated with ESI (AOR .68, 95% CI .46–.99), as were parent cohort norms (AOR .66, 95% CI .45–.96). Peer cohort norms were not significantly related to boys' ESI. Conclusion: Macrolevel cultural norms may impact adolescents' sexual initiation timing. Research exploring the sexual health outcomes of early initiators in countries with contrasting age norms is warranted.

Volume: 55

Issue: 1

From page no: 114

To page no: 121

Refereed: Yes

DOI: 10.1016/J.JADOHEALTH.2013.12.008

Journal: Journal of Adolescent Health