It’s not you, it’s the math.
That’s the message economics writer Jon Birger has for college-educated single woman in big cities who would rather be paired off.
Birger’s new book, “Date-onomics,” blames gender imbalances on college campuses and in urban areas for sapping men’s interest in commitment and creating a surplus of single women. “The college and post-college hookup culture, the decline in marriage rates among college-educated women, and the dearth of marriage-material men willing to commit, are all byproducts of lopsided gender ratios and a massive undersupply of college-educated men,” Birger writes.
Overall, “Date-onomics” is a depressing, patronizing book to read as a single woman. Nearly 200 pages delving into the numbers and their effect on supply and demand implies: Have you ever thought about moving? Preferably to San Jose or the New York City suburbs, where there’s a surplus of college-educated single men? Birger is quick to say he’s not telling people what to do: “My goal is simply to make sure people’s choices are informed ones,” he writes. Instead, he merely “suggests” that young men and women choose colleges, careers and cities based on gender ratios. As if that cancels out the married mansplaining.
Rather than scare you with the stats implying that THERE ARE NO GOOD MEN ANYWHERE!!!, here are three nuggets on the more optimistic side of Birger’s equations.
1. Assertive women get the guys.
“Men want to be wanted,” Birger writes, “and in a lopsided dating market, women who are pursuers are more likely to succeed than those who sit back and wait for Mr. Right to woo them.” The idea that men enjoy the chase “may well be a myth,” he adds.
I’ve long supported women making the first move. It’s a key part of my feminist dating strategy, and there are even new dating apps that require it. But for anyone who’s still not convinced, here’s an economics writer endorsing the tactic as well.
2. Asian American women aren’t hurt by the “man deficit.”
Since 67 percent of Asian American women ages 30 to 34 have a college degree, versus 38 percent for all women, Birger assumed that Asian American women “would be far more affected by the man deficit than women from other racial or ethnic groups.” Instead, he found that they don’t have trouble finding a mate.
Eighty-eight percent of Asian American women (ages 30 to 34) are married or have been married, the book notes, compared to 77 percent for white women, 73 percent for Hispanic women and 46 percent for black women. The reason, according to Birger, who cites OkCupid data and other psychological experiments, is that men of all races find Asian women to be the most attractive.
3. More mixed-collar marriages could reduce the man deficit.
Birger predicts that, in the future, more professional women will marry working-class men. These pairings are already common among African Americans; he cites a 2010 Pew Research Center report finding that 33 percent of African American women were married to men with less education, compared with 28 percent of all American women.
“Some college-educated women might balk at the idea of marrying a working-class man,” Birger writes. “However, others could view a mixed-collar marriage as a solution to a modern dilemma — the career woman who could really use a partner with more time to help with homework or attend Little League games.”
A stronger economy with more job security and higher earnings for men without college diplomas, Birger notes, “would go a long way to making those matches more viable.”