Featured image: Jon Birger examines the reason so many college-educated women have trouble finding equal partners in his book, “Date-onomics.” Photo from JonBirger.com.
Jon Birger, a reporter for Fortune magazine, noticed an interesting situation at work. That most of the older men were married and taken, but a majority of the females were ‘unhappily’ single. These are smart, intelligent, career women with plenty of things going for them, it made little sense that they we’re having no luck dating, so Birger set out to discover why this was.
Speaking at SXSW Interactive 2016 on Saturday, March 12, 2016, Birger laid out the claims in his new book, “Date-onomics.” He says the reason some educated, career-oriented women have trouble finding partners comes down to a supply-and-demand issue: there are too many college-educated women and not enough college-educated men. Women want to find college-educated partners, but these men are in short supply.
This lopsided ratio is not a new phenomenon, and we can’t blame Tinder for our impending hookup culture either. According to Birger, there’s a pattern of new technology bearing the blame for a perceived “hookup” culture. In the 1920s, one judge referred to the car as an “orgy pit on wheels,” attributing the rise of flapper culture to the rise in automobiles. In reality, Birger states, the hookup culture was a result of the 10 million men who had died or were seriously maimed in WWI. The shift caused in the roaring 20s apparently had to do little with the booming post-war economy and more to do with an overall lack of men to hold women back from being their free selves, Birger said.
With this historical context in mind, Birger conducted his research at various colleges around the country, notably at ones with skewed gender ratios.
The not-so-golden ratio
At around 60 percent gender ratio, things start to get interesting. If the ratio favors men, e.g. four women for every three guys, a “hook-up” culture forms. Interviewees described it as a “sex-first” culture that emphasized having a good time over commitment. Far from being negative, clinical studies have shown this culture actually results in better sex, with pleasure and foreplay being ranked as much better compared to places with more monogamous cultures.
In contrast, universities with a higher guy-to-girl ratio had a culture where monogamous relationships and courtship were by far the norms. These campuses had one other effect: sexual assault rates were lower on average than the rates on female-dominant campuses. These results have been reflected internationally too. Results in China show that the 61 percent male-to-female ratio has resulted in an overall rise in petty crime, but a starling drop in cases of rape and sexual assault. It seems that when females are in short supply, men are much more protective and respective of them, Birger theorized.
Less women means men settle down faster
With a deficit of either gender, the majority gender tends to prioritize career and work over relationships. Birger found the pattern holds in Silicon Valley, where men far outnumber women. The marriage rate is 78 percent in the area, compared to a 67 percent nationally. Men tended to be more business-focused, and the average gross income of individuals in Santa Clara county is significantly higher than the national average. The area also has 38 percent more men than women. This leads Birger to speculate that the reason male tech workers in Silicon Valley are so successful is they have “no women to distract them.” Put another way, Gretchen Wagner, writing for the San Francisco Book Review wrote, “A dearth of women tends to lead to longer, more stable relationships, higher marriage rates, and increased achievement by the men seeking to woo them.” She gave the book a five-star rating.
In short, ladies — it’s not your fault if you cant get a date. If you’re looking for someone tall, handsome, and college educated, you’ll likely be on the hunt for awhile. But there’s still some good news: Birger said if you’re willing to uncheck that “college educated” box, you’ll probably have better luck.