The problems of teen pregnancy, HIV/AIDS and the high rates of other sexually transmitted diseases among youth have lead to widespread concern with the sexual behaviors of teenagers. Alcohol use is one of the most commonly cited correlates of risky sexual behavior. The purpose of this research is to investigate the causal role of alcohol in determining sexual activity and risky sexual behavior among teenagers and young adults. This research also addresses the question of whether there are public policies that can reduce the risky sexual behavior that results in harmful consequences. Individual and aggregate level data are used to investigate these questions. Results show that alcohol use appears to have no causal influence in determining whether or not a teenage has sex. However, alcohol use may lower contraception use among sexually active teens.Catholic School Girls Gone Crazy:
Although there is a sizeable literature of the effect of private school attendance on academic student outcomes, there is a dearth of studies of the impact of school sector on non-academic outcomes. Using a rich data set, we analyze the impact of Catholic school attendance on the likelihood that teens use or sell drugs, commit property crime, have sex, join gangs, attempt suicide, and run away from home. Controlling for a host of personal and family background characteristics and adjusting for the endogeneity of sector choice, we cannot find evidence that Catholic schooling leads to a lower incidence of these risky behaviors among teenagers.
Finding A Wife In a the Middle of a Sausage Fest:
A combination of changing migration patterns and US immigration restrictions acted to shift the male-female balance in many ethnic groups in the early 20th Century. I use this variation to study the consequences of changing sex ratios for the children of immigrants. Immigrant sex ratios affected the second generation for a number of reasons, most importantly because immigrants and their children typically married in the same ethnic group. The results suggest that higher sex ratios, defined as the number of men per woman, had a large positive impact on the likelihood of female marriage. More surprisingly, second-generation male marriage rates were also an increasing function of immigrant sex ratios. The results also suggest that higher sex ratios raised male earnings and the incomes of parents with young children. The interpretation of these findings is complicated by changes in extended family structure associated with changing sex ratios. On balance, however, the results are consistent with theories where higher sex ratios increase male competition for women in the marriage market.Big is Beautiful? But Fewer Bucks:
We investigate income, marital status, and hourly pay differentials by body mass (kg/m2) in a sample of 23 to 31 year olds drawn from the 1988 NLSY. Obese women have lower family incomes than women whose weight-for-height is in the 'recommended' range. Results for men are weaker and mixed. We find similar results when we compare same-sex siblings in order to control for family background (e.g., social class) differences. Differences in economic status by body mass for women increase markedly when we use an earlier weight measure or restrict the sample to persons who were single and childless when the early weight was reported. There is some evidence of labor market discrimination against obese women. However, differences in marriage probabilities and in spouse's earnings account for 50 to 95 percent of their lower economic status. There is no evidence that obese African American women suffer an economic penalty relative to other African American women.Be Happy, Have Sex:
This paper studies the links between income, sexual behavior and reported happiness. It uses recent data on a random sample of 16,000 adult Americans. The paper finds that sexual activity enters strongly positively in happiness equations. Greater income does not buy more sex, nor more sexual partners. The typical American has sexual intercourse 2-3 times a month. Married people have more sex than those who are single, divorced, widowed or separated. Sexual activity appears to have greater effects on the happiness of highly educated people than those with low levels of education. The happiness-maximizing number of sexual partners in the previous year is calculated to be 1. Highly educated females tend to have fewer sexual partners. Homosexuality has no statistically significant effect on happiness. Our conclusions are based on pooled cross-section equations in which it is not possible to correct for the endogeneity of sexual activity. The statistical results should be treated cautiously.Punish Gays with Marriage Monogamy and end HIV:
One of the conjectured benefits of establishing the legal recognition of samesex partnerships is that it would promote a culture of responsibility and commitment among homosexuals. A specific implication of this claim is that "gay marriage" will reduce the prevalence of sexually transmitted infections (STI). In this study, I present a simple 2-period model, which provides a framework for discussing the ways in which gay marriage might reduce (or increase) the prevalence of STI. Then, I present reduced-form empirical evidence on whether gay marriage has actually reduced STI rates. These evaluations are based on country-level panel data from Europe, where nations began introducing national recognition of same-sex partnerships in 1989. The results suggest that these gay-marriage laws led to statistically significant reductions in syphilis rates. However, these effects were smaller and statistically imprecise with respect to gonorrhea and HIV.>Unintended Consequences:
Recent breakthroughs in the treatment of HIV have coincided with an increase in infection rates and an eventual slowing of reductions in HIV mortality. These trends may be causally related, if treatment improves the health and functional status of HIV+ individuals and allows them to engage in more sexual risk-taking. We examine this hypothesis empirically using access to health insurance as an instrument for treatment status. We find that treatment results in more sexual risk-taking by HIV+ adults, and possibly more of other risky behaviors like drug abuse. This relationship implies that breakthroughs in treating an incurable disease like HIV can increase precautionary behavior by the uninfected and thus reduce welfare. We also show that, in the presence of this effect, treatment and prevention are social complements for incurable diseases, even though they are substitutes for curable ones. Finally, there is less under-provision of treatment for an incurable disease than a curable one, because of the negative externalities associated with treating an incurable disease.
Abstinence Increases the Spread of HIV?
Under asymmetric information about sexual history, sexual activity creates externalities. Abstinence by those with few partners perversely increases the average probability of HIV infection in the pool of available partners. Since this increases prevalence among the high activity people who disproportionately influence the disease's future spread, it may increase long-run prevalence. Preliminary calculations using standard epidemiological models and survey data on sexual activity suggest that most people have few enough partners that further reductions would increase steady-state prevalence. To the extent the results prove robust, they suggest that public health messages will be more likely to reduce steady-state prevalence and create positive externalities if they stress condom use rather than abstinence.