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Arch Sex Behav. 1989 Aug;18(4):271-98.

Reexamining factors predicting Afro-American and white American women's age at first coitus.

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Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles 90024.


Research identifying factors associated with ethnic differences in first coitus has been limited by methodologies and samples used. This study reexamines ethnic differences in Afro-American and white American women's age of first coitus. Demographic, socialization, and decision-making factors were examined in a series of multiple regression analyses, with the prevalence of women's child sexual abuse incidents, in order to identify variables that best predicted age of first coitus. The subjects were a multiethnic community sample of 248 women, 18 to 36 years of age, residing in Los Angeles County. Their demographic characteristics were comparable on education, marital status, the prevalence of children, and income. The results indicated that women's perceptions of their parents as more influential than peers during adolescence, and being in love and ready for sex were predictors of an older age at first intercourse. Ethnicity was not significantly associated with the strongest predictors or with first coitus. Factors that best predicted first coitus were also similar for both ethnic groups. The findings suggest that in order to examine the role of ethnicity in first coitus, differences in demographic characteristics found between black and white samples need to be controlled. Similarly, multiethnic research should include variables that are relevant to both ethnic groups, as well as abusive sexual experiences, in order to understand the multiplicity of factors predicting age at first intercourse.

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