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Perspect Sex Reprod Health. 2002 May-Jun;34(3):127-34.

Employment and the sexual and reproductive behavior of female adolescents.

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  • 1School of Social Work, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USA.



Women's employment opportunities may reduce the risk of early intercourse and pregnancy, but some evidence has linked adolescent employment and problem behaviors with early intercourse.


Hazard regression analyses of data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth were used to examine the relationship between employment and the risk of first intercourse before age 20 among women who were aged 14-16 in 1979. The relationship between employment and the risk of a first, nonmarital pregnancy among sexually experienced young women was also assessed.


Current employment and cumulative months of past employment are associated with increased hazards of first intercourse (hazard ratios, 1.20 and 1.01, respectively); this association is particularly strong for white young women. Adolescents who work more than 120 hours a month are significantly more likely than nonworking adolescents to experience first intercourse (1.4). Although current employment has no effect on the likelihood of a first, nonmarital pregnancy among white adolescents, it is associated with an increased risk of pregnancy among blacks and with a reduced risk of pregnancy among Hispanics.


Program planners and policymakers should be aware of the potential association between adolescent employment, particularly intense employment, and the likelihood of initiating intercourse and experiencing pregnancy, even if causality is still unclear.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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