READING, WRITING, AND SEX: THE EFFECT OF LOSING VIRGINITY ON ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE

Authors

  • JOSEPH J. SABIA

    1. Sabia: Assistant Professor, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602. Phone 1-706-542-4722, Fax 1-706-583-0313, E-mail jsabia@fcs.uga.edu
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      I wish to thank Dennis Jansen, Richard Frank, and two anonymous referees for useful comments and suggestions. Thanks also to Nikki Williams for excellent editorial assistance. This research uses data from Add Health, a program project designed by J. Richard Udry, Peter S. Bearman, and Kathleen Mullan Harris, and funded by a grant P01-HD31921 from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, with cooperative funding from 17 other agencies. Special acknowledgment is due Ronald R. Rindfuss and Barbara Entwisle for assistance in the original design. Persons interested in obtaining data files from Add Health should contact Add Health, Carolina Population Center, 123 West Franklin Street, Chapel Hill, NC 27516-2524 (http://www.cpc.unc.edu/addhealth/contract.html). This work was supported by a grant from the University of Georgia Research Foundation.


Abstract

Controlling for a wide set of individual- and family-level observables available in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, ordinary least squares (OLS) estimates show that sexually active adolescents have grade point averages that are approximately 0.2 points lower than virgins. However, when information on the timing of intercourse decisions is exploited and individual fixed effects are included, the negative effect of sexual intercourse disappears for females, but persists for males. Taken together, the results of this study suggest that while there may be adverse academic spillovers from engaging in intercourse for some adolescents, previous studies’ estimates are overstated due to unmeasured heterogeneity. (JEL I10, I21, I18)

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