THREE ESSAYS ON SEXUAL BEHAVIOR IN A CULTURAL CONTEXT
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This dissertation focuses on the role of cultural norms on risky sexual behavior. The study considered the effect of cultural norms on the decision to engage in sex, use condoms as well as multiple sexual partnerships. The first chapter, entails a theoretical model showing that cultural norms influence decision to engage in a sexual behavior. Significant finding from the study is that, societies where risky behavior is prevalent and acceptable, a person is more likely to engage in risky sex and vice versa. Additionally, individuals are more likely to take higher risk when the cost of the risk is low and less risk when the cost is high. The focus of the second chapter was to analyze the effect of norms on adolescent drinking and smoking on engagement in sex using data on high school students in Ghana. Significant finding from the study showed a causal relationship of drinking and smoking on engagement in sex. However the relationship between drinking and smoking on use of condoms and multiple sexual partnerships is more complex. Other factors such as knowledge increased probability of engagement in sex, however this also increased the use of condoms during sex. The third chapter considered choice of condoms as contraceptive by female adolescents in six countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Significant finding from this study was that, though females were likely to use contraceptives during sex, their probability of using condoms was dependent on their perception on an infected person and if condoms were used during first sexual intercourse. The study also indicated that adolescents were likely to protect against pregnancy in situations where they could not control use of condoms. Furthermore the study indicates that controlling for selection on contraceptive use and condoms was necessary to obtain unbiased estimates. Other factors such as age, years of education and urban residence also influenced engagement in sex, use of contraceptives and choice of condoms as contraceptive during sex.