Family Instability and Early Initiation of Sexual Activity in Western Kenya
Epidemiological, economic, and social forces have produced high levels of volatility in family and household structure for young people growing up in sub-Saharan Africa in recent decades. However, scholarship on the family to date has not examined the influence of this family instability on young people’s well-being. The current study employs unique life history calendar data from Western Kenya to investigate the relationship between instability in caregiving and early initiation of sexual activity. It draws on a body of work on parental union instability in the United States, and examines new dimensions of family change. Analyses reveal a positive association between transitions in primary caregiver and the likelihood of early sexual debut that is rapidly manifested following caregiver change and persists for a short period. The association is strongest at early ages, and there is a cumulative effect of multiple caregiver changes. The results highlight the importance of studying family stability in sub-Saharan Africa, as distinct from family structure, and for attention to dimensions such as age and recency. Copyright Population Association of America 2013
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Volume (Year): 50 (2013)
Issue (Month): 2 (April)
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