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Keywords:

  • adolescent sexual behavior;
  • first intercourse;
  • gender;
  • romantic relationships;
  • seasonality;
  • sexual debut

This study brings together insights from two bodies of scholarship that have heretofore existed as parallel research literatures, namely, research on the social antecedents of sexual debut and scholarship on the seasonality of coital activity. The authors use the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health to discover two seasonal peaks in the reported onset of first intercourse, one in the early summertime months for adolescents in general (the summer effect) and another during December for romantically involved adolescents (the holiday season effect). The authors explore the social contours of these patterns by analyzing the effects of gender, race, and partner relationship context (romantic vs. nonromantic) on each peak. Summertime debuts typically occur between nonromantic partners, and wintertime debuts typically occur between romantic partners.