Girls Who Rely on a Boyfriend for Money Are Less Likely to Use Condoms

Release Date: February 28, 2012 | By Laura Kennedy, Contributing Writer
Research Source: Journal of Adolescent Health


  • Young women whose primary source of spending money is a boyfriend are more likely to report that they never use condoms, according to data from an HIV-prevention study.
  • Almost one-quarter of the teens in an HIV prevention study reported that they count on their boyfriend for spending money and that they had not used a condom in the preceding two months.
  • Teens who receive spending money from their family or a job, versus from a boyfriend, are more likely to use condoms.
Follow us on Facebook

Young women whose boyfriends are their primary source of spending money are more likely to report that their boyfriends never use condoms, according to a study in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

These adolescent women may not explicitly exchange money for unprotected sex, says the report, “but their relationships may be implicitly transactional.”

“We live in a consumerist society in which people may feel that they cannot belong unless they have certain things,” explains lead author Janet Rosenbaum, Ph.D., who studies sexual decision-making at the University of Maryland Population Research Center. “Teens who have needs that they feel aren’t being met may act unwisely to meet those needs.”

“Safe sex interventions and clinicians must consider economic factors that may interfere with adolescents’ practice of safe sex,” say the authors.

The new findings are based on detailed questionnaires completed by more than 700 African-American females ages 15 to 21 participating in an HIV-prevention study in Atlanta. All were unmarried and sexually active.

The young women filled out surveys at the beginning, middle, and end of the one-year study.

At the start of the study, nearly one-quarter of the participants said their boyfriend was their primary source of spending money.

Among those depending on a boyfriend for spending money, 25 percent said that their partner had not used a condom in the preceding two months. Among the other girls, who received spending money from family members, employment or other sources, only 15 percent reported having unprotected sex. Similarly, young women who discontinued receiving most of their money from their boyfriend during the study were more likely to use safe-sex behaviors.

Researchers matched the two groups on more than 75 characteristics, including education, relationship quality, and self esteem measures, so that there were no important differences between the adolescents other than their primary source of spending money. Thus, the researchers say, safe sex programs that empower young women economically may be more effective than other methods.

“The decisions that women and men make in their relationships cross socioeconomic boundaries,” concurs Elizabeth Schroeder, Ed.D., executive director of Answer, a nonprofit dedicated to comprehensive sexuality education.

“This study only looks at half of the dyad. Similar research is needed to question young men about how economic factors affect their sexual decision-making. Sexual decision-making is complicated and complex, this study tries to simplify a really, really complicated topic," Schroeder concludes.

TERMS OF USE: This story is protected by copyright. When reproducing any material, including interview excerpts, attribution to the Health Behavior News Service, part of the Center for Advancing Health, is required. While the information provided in this news story is from the latest peer-reviewed research, it is not intended to provide medical advice or treatment recommendations. For medical questions or concerns, please consult a health care provider.


For More Information:

Reach the Health Behavior News Service, part of the Center for Advancing Health, at (202) 387-2829 or

Journal of Adolescent Health: Contact Tor Berg at (415) 502-1373 or or visit

Rosenbaum, J. et al. (2012). Cash, Cars and Condoms: Economic Factors in Disadvantaged Adolescent Women’s Condom Use. Journal of Adolescent Health, doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2011.12.012

Tags for this article:
Teen Sexuality/Pregnancy/Contraception   Children and Young People's Health  

Comments on this article
Please note: CFAH reserves the right to moderate all comments posted to the Health Behavior News Service. Any inappropriate postings will be removed.

commawatcher says
February 24, 2012 at 1:46 PM

FYI, the first two commas in the first sentence of this article (and the Key Point) shouldn't be setting off the phrase

Mama says
February 28, 2012 at 7:58 PM

Wow, they didn't look into how or why at all?? Obviously teens are just prostituting themselves left and right. *sarcasm*

Did anybody ask about coercion? As any owner of a vagina can tell you, unsrupulous men (the kind that looove teens) will beg a girl to accept money, gifts, etc and be "hurt" if she rejects it. Then when he wants "payment" he's "hurt" that she led him on, used him, whatever.

All girls being socialized that the worst thing they can do is hurt someone's feelings, the weak ones succumb regardless of whether they wanted the gift, money, std, or even hold a conversation with that man. We really need to teach our girls about emotional blackmail young.

Mama says
February 28, 2012 at 8:00 PM


Mama says
February 28, 2012 at 8:20 PM

Even more offensive after checking dinner and changing laundry. Way to perpetuate the sterotype that women and girls are for sale.