Greater Perceptions of Economic Deprivation in Childhood are Associated with More Sexual Risk Behaviors in Adulthood via Younger Age of Sexual Initiation

J Psychosexual Health. 2022 Jul;4(3):185-188. doi: 10.1177/26318318221102375. Epub 2022 Jun 29.


Introduction: Sexual risk behaviors are a public health concern. Although sexual risk behaviors are overrepresented among economically disadvantaged individuals, the mechanisms underlying the link from economic deprivation to sexual risk behaviors are not well understood.

Aim: The purpose of this study was to investigate whether one of the earliest indicators of sexual risk, age of sexual initiation, mediates the link between young men's perceptions of economic deprivation while growing up and sexual risk behaviors in adulthood.

Method: Six-hundred twenty-four men provided data on background variables and risk. Path analyses were conducted in Mplus Version 8.

Results: Perceptions of economic deprivation while growing up were related to younger age of sexual initiation, which in turn was related to higher risk for sex earlier in a relationship, condomless sex, STIs, unintended pregnancy, and condom use resistance.

Conclusion: These findings highlight important avenues for sexual health and health equity promotion.

Keywords: Economic deprivation; path analysis; sexual behavior; sexual health.