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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Are there really "not enough men to go around?"

Reading this piece by Patricia Park in the Times on Friday was an echo of a familiar refrain often heard from women about dating in New York: that the problem is simply in the numbers - there's just “not enough men to go around.” Ms. Park seemingly confirms this axiom by noting that women who are single, divorced or widowed in Greater New York outnumber the same men by more than 700,000.

However, what Ms. Park doesn't note is that this discrepancy is entirely a function of the fact that, on average, women live longer than men. If you look only at the single, divorced and widowed aged 18 - 49, there are actually 96,105 more men than women. This shouldn't be a surprise - Greater New York is a heavily immigrant area, and immigrants demographically skew toward working-age males.

Now, given, this is heavily imperfect information - "never married, divorced, or widowed" hardly transfers directly into "wants a relationship with someone of a different gender," but it's what we've got to work with. And it’s enough to deduce that for women, that there “simply aren’t enough men to go around” only really holds true if you're over 50.

So what accounts for this perception that there are not enough available men in New York? The answer is simple - due to the diversity and size of New York, criteria that we tend to think of as incredibly baseline - age, health, geography, language - actually narrow the pool of potential partners considerably. For instance, it seems hardly necessary to say that you expect your partner to fluently speak the same language as you. But if you’re a monolingual English speaker you’ve just eliminated almost a quarter of the people in the five boroughs. In short, we’re not considering “singles” - we’re really considering singles in or near our particular social grouping. We hardly expect a Uzbeckistani widow from Rego Park to date the quarterback for the Spotswood, NJ High School football team. Yet both are singles in the Greater New York Area.

And some of these subsets do have heavy gender skews - mainly due to different countries sending different types of immigrants to New York. Maybe the subset of "attractive, smart and succesful" folks that Ms. Park cites has a gender skew also, although there's not really a way to measure it.

And, of course, the reason you can't measure this is because standards of "attractive, smart and succesful" are incredibly subjective and relative terms. And if you find that you can't get a date, well, maybe consider either trying to expand your social circle or reconsidering some of these criteria instead of claiming there's "not enough men to go around."

1 comment:

  1. Everybody doesn't want to acknowledge the 2 ton elephant in the room. You have to eliminate all the fat and unattractive people from the dating pool. All those who will now critize be honest, will you date a fat or unattractive person?