As I argue in “DATE-ONOMICS: How Dating Became a Lopsided Numbers Game,” the college and post-college hookup culture is a byproduct, not of Tinder or Facebook (another target of modern scolds), but of shifting demographics among the college-educated. Much as the death toll of WWI caused a shortage of marriageable men in the 1920s, today’s widening gender gap in college enrollment has created unequal numbers in the post-college dating pool.Wow. Jon Birger's piece comes in response to a Vanity Fair essay, "Tinder And The Dawn Of The Dating Apocalypse", which posits that the Internet itself is to blame for this state of affairs. But Birger's got it right: men wouldn't be in this position if there weren't a "surplus" of women. And I use those scare quotes for a reason, because men in their twenties are, as ever, in a slight surplus as of the last census (about 51% of that age group, PDF). For all the talk of equality, women still gravitate toward men making more money than themselves, and of higher social status. Marrying down is just not something one does.
In 2012, 34 percent more women than men graduated from American colleges, and the U.S. Department of Education expects this gap to reach 47 percent by 2023. The imbalance has spilled over into the post-college dating scene. According to data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, there are now 5.5 million college-educated women in the United States between the ages of 22 and 29 vs. 4.1 million such men. In other words, the dating pool for straight, millennial, college graduates has four women for every three men. No wonder some men are in no rush to settle down and more women are giving up on what used to be called “playing hard to get.”
In that light, there is another dating crisis, but one that doesn't get nearly as much attention: that of the displaced males without college educations (and consequently, with little hope of earning a decent living) who have silently been erased from this picture. Young women still value male financial contributions above any other single criterion in a potential mate. If young women have it hard in the dating game, at least they can pay for cat food. Meanwhile, a generation of young men lies ignored.