Dating and Mating through the Eyes of an Economist

Fee Schakenraad
Fee Schakenraad has obtained her master’s degree in Economics last July. After a three month adventure in Spain, studying Spanish, she is now hunting for a challenging job.

The Economics study is often seen as a very practical, hard and feeling less way to approach the world. However, do not underestimate the use of calculations in daily life, knowledge sometimes is power. One of the most magical and difficult things in our existence is finding the love of your life. True love is something that we believe we cannot influence too much. Now it seems that an economic approach on dating can give valuable insights into dating and mating. Many problems arise in matching that are common in economics. For instance, finding a job might not be very different from finding a partner. Both parties should be happy to be matched.

Dating and mating is always a difficult matter. First one needs to know what is a right match. Maybe you like someone that seems to be your opposite, who will complement you. Alternatively, common interests could be attractive. Next, one should enter the market which is full of insecurity and awkwardness to find someone that might have the characteristics that coincide with your preferences. Telling someone that you like him or her might be the scariest things in social interaction. On top of that, searching for love feels like looking for a needle in a haystack. And then there was online dating!

Economists like to allocate scarce resources efficiently. In finding a partner the scarce resource we have is time. Finding the right match takes time; getting in contact with people and going on dates. In order to spend the least time and have the highest chance to find a match, online dating is increasingly useful. Paul Oyer wrote everything about it in his book “Everything I Needed to Know about Economics I Learned from Online Dating.”

The chance to find someone that you like and who likes you too of course is maximized when fishing in the biggest pond. In order to find a match you should be active in a thick market. Here comes the usefulness of dating apps as Tinder and Happn; the market is thick. A thick market obviously also brings some difficulties with it. How are you going to distinguish which people in the pool are right for you? This has to do with preferences and information. The right person for you meets your preferences. On the dating apps gender, age and work or education are displayed. Pictures and some more information can be added if desirable. This information makes the selection process a little easier and faster.

However, the value of the information presented is one of our next concerns. People have an incentive to make themselves come over more socially desirable than they actually are. The white lies on the apps makes that the dating market turns into a market with asymmetrical information. George Akerlof’s market for lemons shows how disastrous asymmetric information can work. The dating apps will not solve this problem, as the time you spend on reading information is like to be their way to make money. Another problem arising from online dating is statistical discrimination. People tend to draw conclusions based on the little information that was available. Posting a picture of you and a horse may make people assume that you have a horse and spend most of your time taking care of it.

Nevertheless one out of five people nowadays finds love through online dating, according to a recent study of Maurice de Hond.  Narrowing your scope to niches might make the time spent on searching more efficient. For instance, subscription for a dating platform that allows higher educated members only can be helpful for those who would like to find a smarter partner. Although finding true love will always go along with costs and awkwardness, do not be too shy to install Tinder or Happn on your smart phone. You should be in the market to succeed in the market.

The Economist:
Photo by Georgejmclittle

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *