Online dating economy
Paul Oyer: There’s a branch of labor economics known as “search theory.” And it’s a very important set of ideas that goes beyond the labor market and beyond the dating market, but it applies, I think, more perfectly there than anywhere else.And it just says, look, there are frictions in finding a match.Well, from an economist’s perspective, I was ignoring what we call “statistical discrimination.” And so, people see that you’re separated, and they assume a lot more than just that.
And you even referred to single people, single lonely people, as “romantically unemployed.” So could you expand on that a little bit?And those frictions are what leads to unemployment.That’s what the Nobel Committee said when they gave the Nobel prize to economists Dale Mortensen and Christopher Pissarides for their insight that frictions in the job market create unemployment, and as a result, there will always be unemployment, even when the economy is doing really well. By the same exact logic, there are always going to be plenty of single people out there, because it takes time and effort to find your mate.Paul Solman: I want to quote a line from Bob Frank’s 1988 book, “Passions Within Reason.” He writes, “People who have participated in dating services are indeed easier to meet, just as the advertisements say, but signaling theory says that, on the average, they are less worth meeting.” Paul Oyer: The online dating market had a hard time getting up and going.It had a hard time getting critical mass, because there was an adverse selection problem initially.
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I eventually ended up meeting somebody who I’ve been very happy with for about two and a half years now.