Premarital Sex, Schoolgirl Pregnancy, and School Quality in Rural Kenya

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Abstract

Using data from nearly 600 adolescents aged 12–19 in combination with data collected from 33 primary schools that the adolescents attended, this report explores whether certain aspects of the school environment affect the initiation of premarital sex among girls and boys in three districts of Kenya. The results suggest that, although neither the school nor the home appears to influence whether boys engage in sex prior to marriage, for girls, a school characterized by a gender-neutral atmosphere appears to reduce the risk of their engaging in premarital sex. Furthermore, although policymakers in Kenya are clearly concerned with the problem of “schoolgirl pregnancy,” the data indicate that in this sample, pregnancy is not the primary reason that girls leave school.

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