, Volume 25, Issue 2, pp 189–204 | Cite as

National estimates of teenage sexual activity: Evaluating the comparability of three national surveys

  • Joan R. Kahn
  • William D. Kalsbeek
  • Sandra L. Hofferth
Demography of Children and Youth


In this article, we examine the reliability with which teenage sexual activity was reported in three recent national surveys. Unlike other study-effects analyses of objective demographic phenomena such as births and marriages, ours focuses on a more sensitive question—age at first intercourse as reported in three very different surveys. Specifically, we compare reports for the 1959–1963 cohort in the 1979 Kantner-Zelnik Study of Young Women, the 1982 National Survey of Family Growth, and the 1983 wave of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth. For the ages when the majority of teens become sexually active (16–19), the three surveys provide comparable estimates of early sexual activity. For the younger teen ages, however, there is some disagreement among the estimates. Nevertheless, all three studies produce consistent estimates of the determinants of sexual activity throughout the teen years.


Sexual Activity Simple Random Sampling National Longitudinal Survey Complex Sample Design Labor Market Experience 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Population Association of America 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joan R. Kahn
    • 1
  • William D. Kalsbeek
    • 2
  • Sandra L. Hofferth
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of MarylandCollege Park
  2. 2.Department of Biostatistics, School of Public HealthUniversity of North CarolinaChapel Hill
  3. 3.Demographic and Behavioral Sciences Branch, Center for Population ResearchNational Institute for Child Health and Human DevelopmentBethesda

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