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Date-onomics: How Dating Became a Lopsided Numbers Game

Date-onomics: How Dating Became a Lopsided Numbers Game

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 college-educated, heterosexual, looking-for-a-partner single woman needs to know: The “man defecit” 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.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780761182085
Publisher: Workman Publishing Company, Inc.
Publication date: 08/25/2015
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 460,426
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.80(d)

About 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.

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.]


Table of Contents

1 The Man Deficit 1

2 How We Got To 57:43 23

3 Sex Ratios 101 44

4 Sex (Ratio) and the City 74

5 The Woman Deficit 99

6 Mormons and Jews 117

7 Game Theory 152

8 Solving the Man Deficit 170

Appendix 187

Bibliography 208

Index 213

Acknowledgments 218

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