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Keywords:

  • adolescent sexual attitudes;
  • multilevel models;
  • neighborhood effects;
  • racial differences

Using data from the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods (neighborhood N= 77; individual N= 951), we consider the extent to which African American youth maintain sexual and fertility-related norms that support early sexual activity and childbearing and examine the robustness of racial differences in sexual attitudes to controls for neighborhood, family, and individual characteristics. At a minimum, neighborhood economic disadvantage accounts for 26% of the baseline increased likelihood of holding attitudes that encourage early sexual activity among African American youth when compared with Whites. Neighborhood-, family-, and individual-level factors account for 67% of the race difference in sexual attitudes. Implications for contextual and race-based theories of sexual and fertility norms are discussed.