A surprising study discussed in the Wall Street Journal linked a connection to the internet to an increase in marriage rates. Surprisingly, the study found that marriage rates among young couples, which had been on the decline for years, are actually between 15 and 30 percent higher than they would be without the existence of the internet.
The study’s author, Andriana Bellou, found that there is a convincing causal correlation between the internet and marriage rates. Bellou, an assistant professor of economics at the University of Montreal, based her findings on data she examined from 1990 to 2006 gathered in the Current Population Survey and compared the results with FCC data about the spread of broadband internet.
Bellou discovered that marriage rates were slightly higher among people who were college-educated than in those without college degrees, a factor that also correlated with the availability of internet in a home. Bellou discovered that more young couples are meeting thanks to online connections and that they are relying less and less on introductions from family and friends.
Bellou says she believes the internet could prove to be as transformative for the marriage market as it has been for the job market. The access to the internet gives those seeking a partner the opportunity to connect with many times more people than they could ever meet in their daily lives. The internet also provides a degree of anonymity that many find appealing.
However, the study points out that these factors, wide selection, anonymity and ease of use, could also undermine the strength of online matches. By making it so easy to meet and find mates many people might start considering marriage less thoughtfully than before. This trend could lead to not only more marriages but, Bellou warns, also more divorces.