, Volume 46, Issue 4, pp 695–715 | Cite as

The effect of sexual abstinence on females' educational attainment

  • Joseph J. Sabia
  • Daniel I. Rees


A number of studies have shown that teenagers who abstain from sex are more likely to graduate from high school and attend college than their sexually active peers. However, it is unclear whether this association represents a causal relationship or can be explained by unmeasured heterogeneity. We employ a variety of statistical techniques to distinguish between these hypotheses, using data on females from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. Our results provide evidence that delaying first intercourse leads to an increased likelihood of graduating from high school. This relationship appears to be strongest among respondents in the bottom third of the ability distribution. Controlling for fertility reduces, but does not eliminate, the estimated effect of delaying intercourse.


Educational Attainment Ordinary Little Square High School Graduation Adolescent Health Ordinary Little Square Estimate 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Population Association of America 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joseph J. Sabia
    • 1
  • Daniel I. Rees
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Public Administration & Policy, School of Public AffairsAmerican UniversityWashington
  2. 2.Department of EconomicsUniversity of Colorado DenverDenver

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