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Date-onomics: How Dating Became a Lopsided Numbers Game

Date-onomics: How Dating Became a Lopsided Numbers Game

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by Jon Birger

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It’s not that he’s just not that into you—it’s that there aren’t enough of him. And the numbers prove it. Using a combination of demographics, statistics, game theory, and number-crunching, Date-onomics tells what every single, college-educated, heterosexual, looking-for-a-partner woman needs to know: The “man


It’s not that he’s just not that into you—it’s that there aren’t enough of him. And the numbers prove it. Using a combination of demographics, statistics, game theory, and number-crunching, Date-onomics tells what every single, college-educated, heterosexual, looking-for-a-partner woman needs to know: The “man deficit” is real. It’s a fascinating, if sobering read, with two critical takeaways: One, it’s not you. Two, knowledge is power, so here’s what to do about it.
The shortage of college-educated men is not just a big-city phenomenon frustrating women in New York and L.A. Among young college grads, there are four eligible women for every three men nationwide. This unequal ratio explains not only why it’s so hard to find a date, but a host of social issues, from the college hookup culture to the reason Salt Lake City is becoming the breast implant capital of America. Then there’s the math that says that a woman’s good looks can keep men from approaching her—particularly if they feel the odds aren’t in their favor.

Fortunately, there are also solutions: what college to attend (any with strong sciences or math), where to hang out (in New York, try a fireman’s bar), where to live (Colorado, Seattle, “Man” Jose), and why never to shy away from giving an ultimatum.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Think Freakonomics and Moneyball if you run across Date-onomics, a by-the-numbers book on dating that argues advice-givers serving up tips for women on how to a find a man have it all wrong."
Associated Press

“The author…provides fascinating evidence to show how and why dating and mating culture in America has changed in the 21st century.” 
Kirkus Review

"Birger offers a compelling argument backed by plentiful data... Recommended, especially for singles and those who advise them."
Library Journal

“A fascinating look at romance and what’s going on with the mating rituals of homo sapiens today. This book will surprise and enlighten you.” 
AJ Jacobs, New York Times bestselling author of The Year of Living Biblically and Drop Dead Healthy

Date-onomics is the Moneyball of dating. College-educated women wanting to improve their odds in today’s wacky marriage ‘market’ will be dog-earing its pages.”
Jean Chatzky, NBC’s Today show financial editor and New York Times bestselling author

“Birger offers a compelling answer to the question, ‘Where are all the good guys?’ I would have said ‘Argentina.’ But now I’m thinking of heading to Aspen. Read Date-onomics and find out why.”
 —Kristin Newman, author of What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding
“The modern single woman will share this book with her well-meaning friends and family who just can’t understand why she’s still single—it’s not her, it’s the date-onomics!”
 —Melanie Notkin, author of Savvy Auntie and Otherhood

Library Journal
Why is it so hard to find a good man? Business journalist Birger sets aside popular dating advice and goes right to the numbers: supply and demand. Across most U.S. college campuses and cities, the pool of single, educated, straight women is simply larger than that of their peer men. Nationwide, 33 percent more women than men in their twenties are college educated, with women having attended college at increasingly higher rates for a generation. Birger argues that this disproportion enables campus hookup culture and discourages marriageable men from committing. He notes racial and cultural influences, including a dating advantage held by Asian women, and the state of marriage in Mormon and Orthodox Jewish communities, which both fit the gender imbalance but add unique complications. The author advises women seeking lasting relationships to consider relocating to male-heavy areas or dating across educational lines and suggests a long-term approach to balancing college enrollment by encouraging boys to delay starting school, to allow for developmental differences. He provocatively notes that a market inefficiency resulting from known causes is unsustainable, so future behavior trends will right the dating imbalance. VERDICT Birger offers a compelling argument backed by plentiful data (including a chart of gender ratios of major U.S. universities and cities) though expressed in an intermittently glib style. Recommended, especially for singles and those who advise them.—Janet Ingraham Dwyer, State Lib. of Ohio, Columbus
Kirkus Reviews
A freelance journalist's study of why young single women "struggle to find marriage-material men" while men "with less going for them seem to have little trouble with the opposite sex." A common complaint among educated, intelligent, and often beautiful women is that there are no men of equal status to date and wed. As Fortune contributor Birger sees it, declining marriage rates among young women of the middle class have to do with two trends: "lopsided gender ratios" and "a massive undersupply of college-educated men." The author examines current data from colleges across the country and finds that the ratio of women to men is now approximately 4 to 3. The notable exceptions to this "rule" include universities like CalTech that have strong math and science programs. This in turn has led to the growth of the so-called campus hookup culture, in which women actively—but in many cases, unhappily—participate. In post-college life, Birger finds that these numbers have also led to another demographic trend: big cities like New York becoming home to more available middle-class women than men and to situations in which men treat the dating scene like a sexual smorgasbord. At the same time, however, he does observe, based on both anecdotal and statistical evidence, that in certain other cities like San Francisco, which is also near the technology mecca of Silicon Valley, women have better opportunities for both dating and marriage. Birger further notes that working-class men—who are finding themselves without class/education equals to date because more working-class women are seeking educations—may also be able to give accomplished women possibilities they cannot now find. The author does not intend to offer dating advice, but he does provide fascinating evidence to show how and why dating and mating culture in America has changed in the 21st century. Informative and possibly useful to single readers.

Product Details

Workman Publishing Company, Inc.
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5.50(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.80(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

The Man Deficit

My friend Sarah Donovan* is a gem. She’s kind. She’s funny. She’s an Ivy Leaguer, and a head-turner too. Professionally, Sarah is a star: a top journalist as well as a familiar face and voice on television and radio.
Sarah is also 41 years old and unmarried. And it is this predicament—one that saddens Sarah, perplexes her friends, and frustrates her parents—that is the catalyst for this book. American cities are filled with Sarah Donovans—educated, successful, personable, often attractive women whose dating woes make little sense to those around them.
“Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve ever had someone ask me if they knew any nice girls for their son,” said Jeffrey Sirkman, the longtime rabbi at Larchmont Temple in Larchmont, New York, and a keen observer of the marriage market. “But just about every week some mother or father will ask me whether I know of any nice guys for their daughter. Why is that?”
Why indeed. Why is it that women like Donovan struggle to find marriage-material men even as male counterparts with less going for them seem to have little trouble with the opposite sex? Attempts to answer such questions have spawned a cottage industry of self-help books for women—dating guides that portray the failure to find Mr. Right as a strategic problem, one that can be fixed by playing hard to get or by following a few simple dating “rules.” Underlying all such advice is an assumption that the perceived shortage of college-educated men—a phenomenon that I call “the man deficit”—is actually a mirage. At birth there are more boys than girls: 1.05 boys are born in the U.S. for every 1 girl. So if college educated women just become better daters—if they can get inside men’s heads and understand what makes them commit—there should be enough college-educated men out there for everyone.
But what if the problem is not strategic? What if most of the good men are taken? What if a disproportionate number of the single guys still out there really are incorrigible commitment-phobes just looking for a good time? What if it doesn’t just seem as if there’s a third more single women than men in every semi-upscale bar in Manhattan or Dallas or L.A.? What if the demographics actually bear that out? What if the hookup culture on today’s college campuses and the wild ways of the big-city singles scene have little to do with changing values and a whole lot to do with lopsided gender ratios that pressure 19-year-old girls to put out and discourage 30-year-old guys from settling down?
What if, in other words, the man deficit were real?
Well, it is real, and the numbers are so shocking it’s a wonder they are not talked about incessantly. According to 2012 population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, there are 5.5 million college-educated women in the U.S. between the ages of 22 and 29 versus 4.1 million such men. In other words, the dating pool for college graduates in their twenties really does have 33 percent more women than men—or four women for every three men. Among college grads age 30 to 39, there are 7.4 million women versus 6.0 million men, which is five women for every four men. These lopsided gender ratios may add up to sexual nirvana for heterosexual men, but for heterosexual women—especially those who put a high priority on getting married and having children in wedlock—they represent a demographic time bomb.

[*Sarah Donovan is a pseudonym, as are other names denoted with an asterisk. Some biographical details have been altered to hide their identities.]


Meet the Author

Jon Birger is a contributor to Fortune magazine. A former senior writer at Fortune and Money, he’s an award-winning freelance journalist who has written for Time, Barron’s, and Bloomberg BusinessWeek. He has appeared on MSNBC, CNN, CNBC, National Public Radio, and Fox News, sharing his expertise on topics ranging from the stock market to oil prices. A graduate of Brown University, Mr. Birger lives with his family in Larchmont, New York.

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Date-onomics: How Dating Became a Lopsided Numbers Game 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a really fun book that explains A LOT about the dating predicament now faced by Millennial women. And it's an absolute must-read for college applicants and their parents. Loaded with fascinating data and colorful anecdotes, the book shows the connection between a college's gender ratio and whether a school's dating culture will emphasize relationships or random hookups. After reading this book, a lot of parents may think twice about sending their daughters to schools like New York University of Sarah Lawrence.
jamandra More than 1 year ago
The book is a quick and fun read, and very informative. A great read for anyone who likes learning about unintended consequences.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Nooks inclusiin of these non fiction books is like the three for a dollar book bins outside used book stores that are more frequent here than barnes and noble is there stiill a borders?