Psycho-socio-economically speaking, what's the best age to start boning down?
PROBLEM: A lot of "marriage promotion" and youth health movements are predicated on notions of how adolescent sexual gallivanting influences romantic/marital relationships as adults. The dominant notion is that starting earlier means problems later. But there's more to it. Some of what we've heard from previous research: Having sex at younger ages is associated with earlier marriage and cohabitation, more divorce, and more extra-marital pregnancy.
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METHODOLOGY: Dr. Paige Harden in the psychology department at the University of Texas at Austin used longitudinal data to compare the age when people first had sex with how their romantic relationships, and satisfaction with them (and, secondarily, other aspects of life), played out later in life.
Harden used data from 1,659 same-sex sibling pairs in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health who'd been followed from adolescence to young adulthood. They categorized the subjects based on whether their first sexual adventure was "early" (<15 years old), "on-time" (age 15-19 years old), or "late" (age >19).