Volume 14 - Article 19 | Pages 453–484

Interdependence between sexual debut and church attendance in Italy

By Marcantonio Caltabiano, Gianpiero Dalla-Zuanna, Alessandro Rosina

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Date received:19 Sep 2005
Date published:30 May 2006
Word count:9663
Keywords:college students, Italy, religion, sexual debut, unobserved heterogeneity


The influence of religion on an individual’s life-course in general – and on sexual behaviour in particular – has long been recognised by social scientists, although few studies have explored the reciprocal causal interdependence between religiosity and sexual debut, mainly in an overwhelmingly Catholic European context.
In this paper, we study the dynamic bi-directional effect between first coital experience and discontinuance of church attendance among a representative sample of Italian students. Both effects work, contrasting the results of other authors regarding the USA, where only the effect of religion on sex has been detected. The present results do not change when the two processes are considered simultaneously and unobserved heterogeneity is taken into account. Some possible explanations are discussed.

Author's Affiliation

Marcantonio Caltabiano - Università degli Studi di Messina (UNIME), Italy [Email]
Gianpiero Dalla-Zuanna - Università degli Studi di Padova (UNIPD), Italy [Email]
Alessandro Rosina - Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Italy [Email]

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