Dating book blames the numbers — not the women


By Leanne Italie, AP

NEW YORK–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.

Business journalist Jon Birger has crunched the data on hetero singlehood and blames massively off-kilter gender ratios — not whether you do or do not return his first text — for the woes of women looking for their Mr. Rights.

Married for 23 years with three kids, Birger said in a recent interview he took on the economics, sociology and demographics of dating to help women realize that the hookup culture, a decline in marriage rates among the college educated and a dearth of marriage-worthy men willing to commit are byproducts of lopsided gender ratios.

New York City, for instance, has 100,000 more women than men who are college educated and under 35, a fact not usually reported when dating-related issues are discussed in the media, Birger said. And he writes there’s no gender ratio divide when it comes to many rural versus urban areas, or small towns versus big cities.

His hope? That the book, out in September from Workman, provides some comfort to those who blame themselves. A Conversation with Jon Birger:

AP: What myths are you trying to dispel with this book and who is the audience?

Birger: I’m trying to offer another take different from what all the conventional dating advice books offer up. The message of a lot of these guides is that women are going about it all wrong. It’s their fault, and my argument is it’s not their fault. It’s the demographics.

AP: Can you explain how you came to the conclusion that demographics never seem to be part of the conversation when it comes to dating behavior?

Birger: I just know a lot of single women, really wonderful, smart — they’re good company — attractive women in their 30s and 40s who share with me various woes of their single lives, and the concept that the number of women in their dating market outnumber the number of men just never enters the conversation.

Initially, I thought this was a New York story or a Jon Birger circle of friends story, but it’s more universal than that.

AP: Where is the man deficit the worst and how do lopsided gender ratios impact people’s drive?

Birger: I know people who live in cities like New York think this is a phenomenon unique to them. But it’s a national phenomenon. Nationally, among millennials, there are four college-grad women for every three college-grad men. In fact, the lopsidedness is actually worse in some rural states like Montana and West Virginia than it is in urban states like California and New York.

In terms of the impact, it doesn’t just make it statistically harder for educated women to find a match. It changes behavior as well.

There’s a ton of social science that’s been done on sex ratios and the big takeaway is that men are more likely to play the field and delay marriage when women are in oversupply. A big argument of my book is that the college- and post-college hookup culture is largely a byproduct of these gender ratios.