The Composition of Schools, Social Status, and Adolescent Relationship Formation

Lindsey Wilkinson, University of Texas at Austin

Previous research on adults shows that blacks marry later than whites, and research on adolescents suggests that blacks delay dating (but not sex) until later ages. I hypothesize that the social factors that delay black relationship formation in adulthood are evident in adolescence. This research uses data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health to investigate the relationship between the social context of schools and adolescent romantic and sexual relationships. Preliminary results show that black adolescents are much more likely to have had a nonromantic sexual relationship, and black girls are more likely to have relationships with someone outside their school. Analyses also show that adolescents who are less popular, have lower grades, and participate less in school activities are less likely to have a relationship, particularly a relationship with another adolescent who attends the same school.

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Presented in Poster Session 3: Families, Parenting, Adolescents, and Children