Panel Paper: The Effect of School-Based Sex Education on Teenage Sexual Behaviors and Health

Sunday, April 9, 2017 : 3:05 PM
HUB 260 (University of California, Riverside)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Brittany Elaine Bass, University of California, Irvine
This study is the first to examine the effect of state mandated, school-based sex education laws on teenage sexual behavior and health. Using data from multiple sources, including the Youth Risk Behavioral Surveys, National Vital Statistics, and the CDC's Wonder statistics on STDs, difference-in-difference results suggest that the typical state sex education mandate increases teenage condom use by 3%, and decreases teenage chlamydia rates by 8%. A back-of-the-envelope calculation suggests that the 8% decrease in chlamydia rates results in $43 million in savings for annual STD care costs. Exploring the policy heterogeneity with respect to abstinence-only and comprehensive requirements within a states' sex education law, the results generally point to no differential effect of abstinence-only and comprehensive teaching on teenage sexual behavior. A causal interpretation of my results is supported, in part, by an event study exercise, and a falsification test on older young adults for whom sex education mandates do not bind.