Just when you thought online dating was a farce, an economics lecturer at the University of Essex comes along to tell you that everything you thought you knew might actually be wrong. There may now be evidence that online dating causes stronger, more diverse marriages. And who do we have to thank for this information? Josué Ortega and Philipp Hergovich, two economists who are on the quest to figure out if online dating is causing more harm than good.
While many have worried about the long-term potential of dating apps and sites, research suggests that such tools may actually be helping more people to get together in new ways, and for good.
In response to the rise of online dating, economists Josué Ortega and Philipp Hergovich recently set out to examine its effects on society as reflected in the data on how our marriages and relationships are forming. Ortega explained over Skype that while he’d been witnessing the trend all around him, he realized he “had no idea” what the experience or real-world impacts could be.
“I realized that all my students were using Tinder, which sounded to me like some kind of scam. I started reading about it, and was really surprised to find it’s very popular in the UK and US, because there’s this sense that Tinder and other platforms are just for hookups,” Ortega said.
“When I came across the statistic that one third of marriages start online, and 70% of gay relationships, I was shocked,” he said. “And the more I talked to people, the more I heard that they’d met their partners on Tinder and other sites.”
After reviewing data on how various kinds of relationships were forming in the wake on online dating, Ortega said, “It seemed like it was changing not just the number of interracial marriages, but also how we meet our spouses, and having other big consequences.”
So Ortega, an economics lecturer at the University of Essex, and Hergovich, who’s pursuing a PhD in economics at the University of Vienna, decided to test their hypotheses on how the internet has changed modern dating by crunching the numbers.
To investigate the effects of online dating over time, they developed a theoretical framework and mathematical models which harnessed previous such exercises, decades’ worth of data, and good old game-theoretic stability. The team also sought to account for other potential factors, such as rising Asian and Hispanic populations in the US.
Read more at Forbes.