Religion and Sexual Initiation in Brazil
Ana Paula A. Verona, University of Texas at Austin
Mark Regnerus, University of Texas at Austin
Increasing adolescent fertility and declining age of first sexual intercourse have been accompanied by a transformation in Brazil’s religious landscape, remarked by the significant growth of Protestantism, led by Pentecostalism. Using data from the 2006 National Demographic Health Survey, this paper examines the associations between religion, as measured by religious affiliation and religious attendance, and never-married adolescent sexual initiation in Brazil. Our findings show that even when controlling for demographic, socioeconomic and community variables, never-married adolescent women’s sexual initiation does differ according to religious affiliation and attendance at religious services in Brazil: those who belong to traditional Protestant or Pentecostal churches and attend religious services more often are at lower risk of engaging in sexual activity. Based on our quantitative results and using available ethnographic evidence, we conclude by suggesting that Pentecostalism and attendance at religious services may influence, directly and indirectly, never-married adolescent women’s sexual initiation in Brazil.
Presented in Session 69: Religion, Sexuality and Fertility