Friday, August 9, 2019

Coupling up with the help of the internet

My colleague Michael Rosenfeld, in Stanford's sociology department, has been studying how married couples first met, over time, with particular attention to the internet.  Those of you reading this on a stone tablet or parchment scroll may be surprised to hear that the internet is playing an ever-bigger role. But everyone might be surprised at how much bigger, how quickly.

The first figure below comes from a 2012 paper (with survey data through 2009),
Searching for a Mate: The Rise of the Internet as a Social Intermediary
by Michael J. Rosenfeld and Reuben J. Thomas, American Sociological Review 77(4): 523-547.

The red line records the percentage of couples who met online, and it was already the dominant method for same-sex respondents to report meeting, while for heterosexual couples it was surpassed only by meeting through friends (and church and primary or secondary school matches had almost dropped out of the picture, while bars were still making a good showing...)

An unpublished (but media-covered) paper brings the figure up to date to 2017, with the red line now approaching 40% for heterosexual couples, and friends (the blue line) continuing their decline.

Research Note:  Disintermediating your friends 
Michael Rosenfeld,  Reuben J. Thomas, Sonia Hausen,
 Draft date: July 15, 2019
Forthcoming in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

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