Rural-to-Urban Migration and Sexual Debut in Thailand

Philip Anglewicz, Mark VanLandingham, Dusita Phuengsamran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Migration from one’s parents’ home and sexual debut are common features of the transition to adulthood. Although many studies have described both of these features independently, few have examined the relationship between migration and sexual debut in a systematic manner. In this study, we explore this link for young adults in Thailand. With relatively high rates of internal migration, rapid modernization, a moderate HIV epidemic, and a declining average age of sexual debut, Thailand presents an instructive environment in which to examine migration and sexual debut. We use two waves of a longitudinal data set (2005 and 2007) that includes a subsample of young adults who migrated to urban areas during that period. We identify characteristics and behaviors associated with sexual debut and examine the role of migration on debut. Our approach reduces several common sources of bias that hamper existing work on both migration and sexual debut: (1) the longitudinal nature of the data enables us to examine the effects of characteristics that predate both behaviors of interest; (2) the survey on sexual behavior employed a technique that reduces response bias; and (3) we examine differences in debut by marital status. We find that migrants have a higher likelihood of sexual debut than nonmigrants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1955-1976
Number of pages22
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 23 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Migration
  • Sexual debut
  • Thailand

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography


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