Date of Submission
Open Access Senior Thesis
Bachelor of Arts
Dr. Eric Helland
© 2019 Hamsa Srikanth
We’re often warned that the internet will hasten the dating apocalypse. The internet (it is posited) is depriving us of the elusive in-person magic, and modern courtship is now little more than love at first byte.
There remains uncertainty, however, about what the independent impact of the internet on the dating market has been. Similar to the internet, the telephone also changed the way we communicate, but its effect on the dating market was mostly complementary to the 'traditional' ways of meeting – i.e. calling your school crush at home. So the question remains: Is the effect of the internet on the dating market complementary (adding your school crush on Facebook) or substitutionary (matching with a stranger on Tinder)? Is the internet any better than the telephone?
If all that was known about a random couple is that they met after 2015, I find that there is a 1 in 3 chance that the couple met as strangers online. Lesbian couples who met after 2015 have a 1 in 2 chance of meeting online, whereas gay male couples have a 63% probability of meeting online as strangers. This increased likelihood of same-sex couples meeting online (as opposed to heterosexual couples) confirms the thin-market hypothesis.
The key value proposition of the internet is that it reduces search frictions in the dating market – effectively making it easier for individuals to seek out their optimal matching. I find that the internet is primarily displacing only ‘social circles’ as a dating venue – the probability of meeting partners in public or at institutions (like college) is unchanged. In other words – individuals are essentially replacing their friends with Wi-Fi when it comes to mate search.
Srikanth, Hamsa, "Love at First Byte: An Economic Analysis of the Internet Dating Apocalypse" (2019). CMC Senior Theses. 2135.