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Try out PMC Labs and tell us what you think. Learn More. Demographic decompositions of recent fertility decline in urban Ethiopia identify delayed marriage among recent cohorts of women as a major component of the decline in urban fertility Sibanda et al. Studies conducted in other sub-Saharan African countries find that as age at marriage increases, premarital sex becomes increasingly common, often leading to a rise in premarital fertility Bledsoe and Cohen, ; Gage-Brandon and Meekers, ; Meekers and Ahmed, This increase in premarital fertility typically is linked to increases in the autonomy of women education and labor force participation , a weakening of family controls over the sexual behaviors of daughters associated with migration to cities, and the opportunities and lifestyles associated with urban residence.

A rise in adolescent premarital sexual activity in the context of delayed marriage, however, is far from universal in African countries. A recent comprehensive analysis of adolescent transitions into adulthood using Demographic and Health Surveys DHS found that in 7 of the 27 African countries examined, no inter-cohort change had occurred in the percent of women who had premarital sex by age 18, even though the percent marrying by age 18 had declined in 24 of the countries National Research Council, Mensch, Grant and Blanc also report in a similar multi-country analysis of the DHS that the data do not support the claim that the delay in marriage in Africa has resulted in a pervasive shift toward earlier sexual initiation.

In Ethiopia, a society in which childbearing outside of marriage traditionally has not been tolerated, the rise in age at marriage has not been accompanied by a rise in premarital fertility. In fact, in an analysis of fertility change in Addis Ababa based on the and censuses, Lindstrom and Woubalem find that non-marital fertility actually declined during the inter-censal period. In this article we examine successive birth cohorts of rural and urban women to document change in the timing of women's transitions into sexual activity and adult family roles, and to identify the underlying relationships between these transitions and education and place of residence.

We use data from the and Ethiopia Demographic and Health Surveys to test theories of role competition, human capital, and social dislocation, and we offer plausible explanations for the patterns of reproductive behavior observed. Delayed marriage is now a well-established trend in African countries. The increase in age at marriage is largest in urban areas, but there is evidence of a rise in age at marriage in rural areas as well Blanc and Grey, Delayed marriage is widely believed to be associated with increases in school enrollment at the secondary level and above, rural-urban migration, and increases in female non-agricultural employment Ikamari, ; Jejeebhoy, ; Kaufman and Meekers, ; Kinfu, ; Lesthaeghe et al.

In general, delayed marriage is an important component of the decline in total fertility in societies where childbearing occurs largely within marital unions. The actual contribution of delayed marriage to fertility decline depends in part on what happens to premarital fertility.

There is no consensus on the predicated and observed effects of education and urban residence on premarital sexual activity and premarital childbearing in Africa Meekers, a , although evidence emerging from developing countries tends to show that school enrollment and educational attainment delay the initiation of sex National Research Council, Three general hypotheses dominate the literature on education and family formation Lindstrom and Brambila-Paz, ; Yabiku, First, role incompatibility between the status of student and that of wife and mother reduces the risk that young women who are enrolled in school will marry and begin childbearing.

Second, education is an investment in human capital : it decreases a woman's expected dependence on a husband's earnings, and it increases the opportunity costs of foregoing employment to take on the roles of wife and mother. The improved earning power that education offers women, therefore, encourages them to delay marriage and childbearing.

Third, the social dislocation hypothesis argues that schooling is a transformative experience for young women; it increases their awareness of alternative roles to those of wife and mother; it promotes independence and a greater say in choice of husband; and it weakens the hold of traditional norms regarding the timing and desirability of first sexual intercourse in relation to marriage and may increase the acceptability of premarital motherhood.

The human capital and social dislocation hypotheses predict that the effects of education are strongest among women living in urban areas where there is a wider array of employment opportunities for educated women, an expanded marriage market, and a less restrictive socio-cultural environment compared to village life. The social dislocation hypothesis suggests that education, urban residence, and economic change gradually breakdown traditional means of social control over adolescent sexual behavior and socialization by bringing boys and girls together outside of the supervision of parents and traditional rural based kinship groups, and by eroding traditional moral codes through exposure to Western values about sex, sexual autonomy, and marital life Caldwell et al.

In the absence of effective contraceptive use early premarital sexual activity raises the risk of premarital births. However, there are also reasons to expect education and urban residence to be associated with a delay in the start of sexual activity. Schooling and employment opportunities in the urban sector encourage girls to develop occupational and economic aspirations that would be jeopardized by early marriage and childbearing.

The risk of an early, unplanned pregnancy posed by premarital sexual activity encourages girls who would have higher opportunity costs to delay first intercourse. Evidence in support of both the social dislocation hypothesis and the prediction that schooling delays the onset of sexual activity can be found in sub-Saharan Africa. Meekers and Ahmed found in a survey of urban youth in Botswana that for girls, being in school is associated with a lower risk of initiating sexual activity. In a study of youth in Accra, Agyei et al. Kebede et al. Studies reviewed by a recent National Research Council study of adolescent transitions into adulthood also provide contradictory evidence of the relationship between urban residence and adolescent sex In a wider analysis of DHS data for seven sub-Saharan African countries Gage-Brandon and Meekers found that the impact of education on sexual activity among never-married women was inconsistent across countries.

The evidence seems to suggest that school enrollment delays premarital sexual activity, but that level of completed education has a less consistent impact. The presence of substantial variation in the relationship between education, place of residence, and the onset of sexual activity suggests that context plays a fundamental role in how education affects the timing of first intercourse and the relationship between sexual initiation and entry into marriage.

Although a positive relationship between education and age at marriage is found in diverse national and cultural contexts, there is little evidence to suggest that higher education is leading to a convergence towards the Western model of courtship and marriage that is implicit in early formulations of the demographic transition. In spite of the spread of secondary and higher education, there continues to be considerable variation in the role of parents and elders in spouse selection, how prospective spouses meet, and norms regarding premarital sexual behavior and courtship see Meekers, for the case of Togo.

Studies in many non-European countries find that arranged marriages or the close involvement of parents in selecting or approving a spouse remains common among highly educated young people Banerjee, We suspect that the social dislocation hypothesis regarding the role of Western education in eroding traditional norms regulating premarital sexual behavior is problematic as well. The resiliency of traditional norms regarding premarital sexual behavior and in particular the uneven application of these norms to women and men, are likely to be an important source of variation in the relationship between education and premarital sex, and premarital sex and marriage.

Ethiopia is an ethnically and linguistically diverse country with over 80 ethnic groups and nine major language families. The Amhara, a Semitic speaking people, and the Oromo, a Cushitic-speaking people, are the two largest ethnic groups with 30 and 32 percent of the population respectively. The next two largest groups, the Tigrai and the Somali each constitute approximately 6 percent of the population. Roughly 50 percent of the population is Orthodox Christian, 10 percent is Protestant, and 33 percent is Muslim, with followers of traditional African and other religions ing for a small percentage of the population CSA, In spite of the ethno-linguistic and religious diversity, centuries of social, economic, and political interaction have produced common cultural traits and forms of social organization and expression that provide the foundation for a greater Ethiopia culture area Levine, Although there remain distinctive ethnic differences in access to education, rural-urban migration and marriage practices age at marriage and the prevalence of polygamy and divorce , entry into marriage is near universal among all groups, with only 1 percent of men and women age 35 and above having never married CSA, Marriage is of central importance to all aspects of life in Ethiopia; in one way or another, practically all essentials are organized, procured, and guaranteed through the institution of marriage Weissleder, A strict sexual division of labor that makes the performance of tasks not of one's gender almost taboo, provides a compelling pragmatic rationale for entry into marriage.

For women, in particular, being single or in a household without a man is associated with marginalized social status, dependence on kin, and greater vulnerability Pankhurst, Among the Amhara, who for centuries have been the most dominant cultural and political group, very early age at marriage is common.

According to the Ethiopia DHS the median age at first marriage for women in the Amhara region ages was Parents view early marriage strategically because it provides a means to extend the family's social networks, which are a critical source of aid during times of crisis and household need. Because first marriages generally involve a bond between households, a bride's virginity is not simply a matter of honor; it has an economic value to parents and to the young women themselves Pankhurst, In societies, such as Ethiopia, where family networks function as mutual support groups, how well a young woman and man marries has long-term consequences for the families involved as well as for the bride and groom.

According to Dagne the competition to find desirable partners for one's own children means that the earlier a marriage is arranged, the less parents have to worry about. At the same time, depletion of family resources associated with war, political turmoil and economic and environmental crisis has made it more difficult for families to secure a suitable husband for their daughters, and for young men to attain the economic independence desirable in a marriage partner. To the extent that marriage is delayed, individual autonomy in partner selection is likely to be greater for both men and women.

Because grooms bring most of the assets into a marriage, their outcome in the marriage market is not as important in determining their future economic well-being as it is for brides Fafchamps and Quisumbing, a. Marriages in many parts of Ethiopia can be divided into six types: ceremonial marriage serg , religious marriage k'urban , civil marriage semanya , marriage preceded by the provision of labor k'ot'assir , paid labor marriage gered or demoz , and marriage by abduction t'ilf. The types of marriages differ in terms of the involvement of parents in the match; the level of formality, ceremony and expense; and expectations of labor exchanges Pankhurst, Marriage by abduction and civil marriage are now the standard forms of marriage, although ceremonial marriage which involves considerable expense remains common in urban areas.

Very early age at first marriage and premarital first sex are associated with marital instability and divorce, multiple partners; poverty, and subsequent drift into prostitution or paid domestic work Duncan et al. Women who begin childbearing at very early ages are more likely to die in childbirth or to suffer reproductive exhaustion, and their husbands are more likely to take secondary wives, endangering the social standing and economic security of these women and their children.

Young women in urban areas, and especially with higher levels of education, are more likely than rural girls with little or no schooling to exert independence in spouse selection and marital timing because they have more opportunities for economic independence. In many instances, highly educated urban girls will have greater earning power than their parents because of the recent growth of employment opportunities for well-educated women.

Contraception is one way young women can become sexually active before marriage and reduce the risks of an unwanted pregnancy. According to the Ethiopia DHS the two most common modern contraceptive methods ever used by sexually active unmarried women under age 25 were the condom Overall, However, less than 1 percent of unmarried women under age 25 were reported by the survey as having sexual intercourse within the last four weeks CSA, ,80 ; 3.

Although unmarried women who become sexually active appear to have access to contraception, the prevalence of reported sexual activity among unmarried women at the time of the survey was extremely low. Even with access to contraceptives, contraceptive use does not protect the reputation of young women when a premarital sexual relationship ends without transitioning into marriage. In the analysis that follows, we look at inter-cohort shifts in the timing and context of sexual initiation, marriage, and the start of childbearing; and we check whether there are parallel inter-cohort shifts in the influence of education and urban residence across the different sexual and family life transitions.

In particular, we are interested in delineating the interrelationship between delayed marriage and the initiation of sexual activity. Data for this analysis come from the and Ethiopia Demographic and Health Surveys. The surveys were conducted by the Central Statistical Authority of Ethiopia and were deed to be nationally representative.

A total of 15, women age were interviewed for the survey and 14, women age were interviewed for the survey. In this article we use information on age at first intercourse, age at first marriage, and age at first birth for 14, women from the survey and 10, women from the survey who had valid responses no missing values on all of our dependent and independent variables of interest. The advantage of using both the and surveys is that they provide independent estimates of the same sets of measures and relationships, and greater statistical power when pooled.

We restrict our analysis of the survey to women born between and and the survey to women born between and Because the DHS are limited to women ages , women born between and were not interviewed in the survey. Based on quality checks of DHS surveys in general performed by other investigators and extensive checks we performed on the survey, we conclude that there is no evidence of bias in a direction that would lead us to overestimate the delay in sexual initiation and entry into marriage.

We provide a fuller discussion of data quality issues in the appendix. We divide our analysis into four parts. First, we examine the distribution of early life course transitions and how these distributions have changed across cohorts. Second, we examine the social determinants of the timing and marital context of first intercourse using discrete-time hazards models. Third, we examine the social determinants of entry into marriage among women who begin sexual activity before marriage.

Finally, we model the hazard of a first birth after the start of marriage. We first estimated our models separately for each of the two sample surveys in order to check whether the basic cohort trends and underlying relationships were consistent across the surveys. After finding no evidence of substantively important differences between the two surveys, we pooled the surveys and included a dummy variable for survey year in the multivariate analyses. We also use interactions between our key explanatory variables and birth cohort to determine whether the underlying processes of sexual initiation and family formation have changed across cohorts.

We use discrete-time hazard regression models to analyze the transition of women into sexual activity, marriage, and childbearing. To estimate the discrete-time models we constructed a person-year file in which every woman contributes one record for each year she is exposed to the risk of the event in question.

In situations where more than one outcome is possible, we use multinomial logistic discrete-time models. In the analysis of first intercourse, we start the risk period at age 10 for all women. For the few women who reported first intercourse at an age less than 10, we recode age at first intercourse to In all of our models we include as covariates birth cohort, student status, level of education, place of residence, religion, and ethnicity.

Student status, level of education, and place of residence are time-varying to capture changes in roles, status, and social context that influence the risk of transitioning into adult roles. To construct the student status variable we assume everyone enters school at age six, and then we add the of years of schooling completed to determinate the last age at which girls were still in school.

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