We all have that friend: the beautiful, intelligent, driven woman who—like Katherine Heigl in every rom-com—can't find a decent date. Every guy she goes out with is an asshole; she consistently dates "below" her league, and she's on the verge of giving up on a committed relationship altogether.
Not long after he turned 30, the writer Jon Birger realized he and his wife knew a lot of women like that. The couple didn't have a lot of single male friends left, but the many single women they knew all seemed to be buyers stuck in a seller's market. One of those friends, Birger told me, "had been dating a guy for a couple years. It certainly seemed like they were well on their way to getting married. She was in her late 30s, he was in his mid 40s. She really wants to have kids, get married, the whole [thing]. And she's amazing in every way."
One day at lunch, Birger casually asked her about her boyfriend. "Her whole expression changed," Birger recalled. They had just broken up. "They'd been dating for over two years and he said he 'just wasn't ready to settle down.'"
This got Birger, a former economics writer for Fortune and Money, thinking: How could a man of that age be so cavalier about casting aside such an amazing woman? And why do we all have similar stories of incredible female friends trapped for years in dating hell? Why are there so many great single women? Where are all the great single men?
Using his background in economics and statistics, Birger sought out an answer. The result is his recent book, Date-onomics: How Dating Became a Lopsided Numbers Game, a clever read with a sobering conclusion: There simply aren't enough college-educated men to go around. For every four college-educated women in my generation, there are three college-educated men. The result? What Birger calls a "musical chairs" of the heart: As the men pair off with partners, unpartnered straight women are left with fewer and fewer options—and millions of them are eventually left with no options at all.
I sat down for a long talk with Birger and found out why boys aren't graduating from college, why your best friend is single, and why more women should consider moving to Silicon Valley.
VICE: How did you determine that there was this nation-wide "man deficit" among the college-educated?
Jon Birger: I think when I began the research, I actually thought the conclusion was a little different. I assumed this was a New York problem or a big city thing. Like in New York, I [thought] it had something to do with the labor market here; fashion and PR and media attract a lot of women and Wall Street isn't nearly the all-male bash that it used to be, so I figured there would be all those shifts in the labor market—[I thought] maybe there was something unique about LA and Washington and New York that make them particularly bad for women. It turns out I was wrong. In fact, what I call the "college man deficit" is worse in rural states like Montana and West Virginia and Mississippi than it is in California and New York. It's a nationwide phenomenon.
So, where are all the men?
I mean they exist, they're just not going to college. This isn't China or India where they have a man-made gender imbalance because of all sorts of horrendous things. [Men are] out there, they're just not going to college. Last year about 35 percent more women than men graduated from college.
The Department of Education projects that by the class of 2023, there will be 47 percent more women than men [graduating from college]. That's three women for every two men, essentially. Obviously, none of this would matter if we were all a little more open-minded about who we are willing to date and marry. But there have been multiple studies on this and it turns out Americans have become less likely, over the past 50 years, to marry and date across educational lines. So educational intermarriage—I don't know if that's a real term, maybe I just made it up—is at its lowest rate in 50 years.
Does that mean in the working-class dating market there are a lot of single men? What implications does that have?
Among non-college-educated singles ages 22 to 29, there are 9.4 million men and 7.1 million women. And if you look at the women in that age group who are non-college-educated, something like 30 percent of the women are married but only 22 percent of the men are married.
Read the rest of the article here: https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/3bj5yv/youre-single-because-there-arent-enough-men-253