Blame it on the Date-onomics

They say, “It’s a man’s world, and we’re just living in it.” Well… this is definitely true in the dating game.

The major difference in today’s generation is that the women dominate in education. There are 5.5 million educated women aged 22-29. And 4.1 million educated men aged 22-29. That’s 33% more female than men. So, not only do females outnumber males globally, when it comes to finding love on their “level,” the pool of men gets even smaller.

Job Birger calls this “The Man Deficit,” and his book "Date-Onomics: How Dating Became a Lopsided Numbers Game" explains the stats on numbers and the supply and demand for men in today’s dating pool. It also explains how dating now isn’t so much of a strategic problem, as it is a demographic problem.   And on the evening of October 27, 2015, Birger linked up with the New Network of Enlightened Women and the CATO Institute in an open forum to explain his findings, and answer many questions the millennials of today’s generation have, especially the ladies.  

But first, how did the Fortune contributor who typically writes about numbers and finances get involved with writing a book on dating? His story is quite interesting and seemingly so on point.

Birger explained how at his workplace the majority of his male colleagues were married, whereas, the female majority was unhappily single. On top of that, his most attractive friend hadn’t been asked out in six months and he couldn’t fathom how that was the case. He listened to their stories and venting sessions, but it wasn’t until his good friend told him her relationship ended with a man who wasn’t ready to settle down that really motivated him to write the book.

Birger’s friend’s boyfriend was 45 and not “ready” to settle down. The pattern was no surprise. So that raised the question, why are men no longer in a rush to settle down? According to Birger and his findings, it’s because they know they are in high demand (as the supply is low on a ratio scale). So he took his statistical background and applied it to the dating scene, and that pretty much sparked the evolution and theme of Date-Onomics.  

What stood out to me the most was when Birger compared dating to a game of musical chairs. “It’s almost impossible to lose in the first round, but by the last round you have a 50% chance of not winning,” Birger said. “The longer you stay in the game, the more chance you have at losing.”

This is especially fitting for the dating world today. The more educated people are getting because they are prioritizing career over marriage, the harder time they are finding when trying to settle down. For females, it’s especially hard as they are more educated and likely to finish college than men these days. And of course because in general, there are more of them then there are men, period. According to Jeremy Greenwood, in the topic of educational intermarriage, there is a low chance of someone marrying someone without a degree, if they themselves hold one. In fact, females were more likely to not look further if the education box wasn’t checked off.  

Interesting fact: 70% of high school valedictorians are female.  

But what was especially interesting was when Birger touched on college campus statistics. Where the demand for female exceeded the supply, men’s behavioral patterns differed as well. In those scenarios, the campus’s dating dynamic was more of a traditional dating scene rather than a “hook-up” scene, and the likelihood of a relationship and marriage was higher than a casual fling.

For example, California Institute of Technology in Pasadena holds a 59% more male to female ratio. Because the men are outnumbered, their approach to dating is more committal. And the women are treated better, and as a valued commodity. Whereas, at the New York University, the female ratio is 61%, and the supply of women exceeds the demand. This means settling down in a serious relationship is a scarcity. The reason: the men have more options and less of a reason to settle down. The dating environment consists of more hook-ups and less long-term relationships. Some women also feel pressured to do more than they are comfortable with in hopes to “lock it down.”  

Side note for the single ladies: the west coast scored much higher than the east coast when it came to marriage stats (not a bad idea to reconsider locating if you’re able to).  

Birger threw some more interesting facts our way when he told us what happens when men are scarce. Well basically, the whole dating culture becomes sexualized. And therefore, single men are in no rush to settle down. And when men are scarce, women become more career oriented. In fact in history, feminist movements are heightened when men are scarce. In a career driven, high power place like Washington D.C., only 48% of females in their 30s are married. This could be by choice, but it could also be statistically related to theory of numbers - the demand and supply, and the education factor.

In China, the men outnumber the women. And boy, do they have to own it. This gives men more of an incentive to actively pursue a courtship and become more “appealing” to a woman by owning a car and having a steady job. They actually have to accumulate greater wealth to attract a potential wife. Women have the upper hand in that country.

One female was reported to have even said, “I would rather cry in the back of a BMW than behind my husband’s back on his bike.”  

So how do we balance out the ratio issue? Well, it’s not going to be an overnight solution that’s for sure. It would consist of a strategy plan that encourages the need for higher education equality for both genders. It would mean providing men with the opportunity to further their education, or an enhancement to the Tittle 9 policy.

Perhaps even following Switzerland’s tradition of making kindergarten two years long as oppose to one year, so the boys could catch up to the women (side humor). These are some of the opinions of the many organizations, like CATO have on gender imbalance. After all, marriage is economically efficient. And, it’s good for the environment too.  

Birger, on the other hand, shared his opinion and solutions as well. His advice to the ladies was nothing short of epic. Other than suggesting relocating to the west coast, Birger said it wouldn’t be a bad idea to move to the suburbs. Many people are under the impression that the majority of suburb residents are those who have already settled down, but that’s not exactly the case. And if you’re not up for moving, there’s always the “ultimatum” strategy. I feel almost guilty for publically disclosing this secret for women out there. But according to Birger, in the man’s world, it works. His father would always tell him you shouldn’t make a decision any time before you really have to. So, when it comes to settling down, Birger felt it was applicable to apply this notion to the dating scene. He promotes “embracing the ultimatum.” Even if it doesn’t work in your favor ladies, at least you didn’t waste any more time with someone who wasn’t going to commit.  

The future new norm may consist of women compromising the education requirement for men and going for men who don’t have as high of an education as they do. That is, if the numbers and stats don’t change. However, there is always the chance of cutting edge breakthroughs. For now, Birger is not promoting the idea of settling down, nor is he is discouraging it. He is simply “just trying to explain why the world is the way it is.”

Written by: Maha Chaudhry 

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