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🔢 Key Takeaways

  1. Marriage rates have declined due to economic factors, but this shift may lead to more pre-commitment and personal growth. Economic and data-driven approaches are gaining acceptance in the realm of love and relationships.
  2. Longer courtships and later marriages can result in more stable relationships and less chance of divorce. Marriage can also lead to better health and financial outcomes, as well as positive outcomes for children. However, the decision to marry remains personal, and love can be difficult to measure. While marriage rates are declining globally, it is uncertain whether marriage will remain relevant in the future.
  3. Cohabitation is on the rise while marriage rates decline in Europe. Assortative matching among highly educated individuals is becoming more common, though preferences for partners still vary based on different factors.
  4. People are attracted to partners with similar backgrounds and values, but this does not guarantee love. Assortative mating also contributes to income inequality, which can cause social and economic instability. Addressing income inequality is crucial for a fair and stable society.
  5. In 19th-century England, parents arranged marriages within the aristocracy, with land ownership and income being key factors. Studying this exclusive market can help address wealth inequality.
  6. The Queen had the power to choose who would be presented and invited to parties, which played a critical role in the marriage market. Her absence during her mourning period greatly impacted the activity of the Season.
  7. The interruption of London's Season in the 19th century resulted in more diverse marriages. Marrying outside of social standing may have led to happier marriages, as measured by the number of children born.
  8. The interruption of the marriage market in 19th century England had a positive impact on reducing inequality and expanding state education. Marrying outside one's peer group can have significant political and economical implications.
  9. Shakespeare's portrayal of courtship and marriage in Romeo and Juliet emphasizes the impact of social status and limited opportunities on relationships. Today, technology has expanded our options for finding love.
  10. Online dating is not just for casual flings; it is a viable option for individuals seeking committed, long-term relationships. The industry is becoming more specialized, catering to specific groups such as age and ethnicity.
  11. Though dating apps attempt to match users based on specific characteristics, it can perpetuate social inequality, similar to how traditional institutional arrangements of historical settings determined marriages. Matching technology has significant consequences for marriages.
  12. Dating apps can provide more dating opportunities, but the algorithm may limit the people you meet to those who are similar to you. This concentration of similar people in marriages can lead to both positive and negative effects on society.

📝 Podcast Notes

The Economics of Love & Relationships

Marriage is not just about preferences and love, but also a market that is influenced by the set of people one has met before. Economic factors play a role in relationship building and maintenance, leading to the decline of marriage rates in recent years. However, this decline may be a positive shift towards more pre-commitment and personal growth before settling down. Helen Fisher's research highlights these trends and her role as's chief science advisor indicates the growing acceptance of economic and data-driven approaches to love and relationships.

The Benefits and Challenges of Marriage in the Modern World.

Longer courtship and later marriages lead to more durable relationships and lower divorce rates, according to divorce data from 1947 to 2011. Additionally, while it can be challenging to prove causality, marriage has substantial benefits, including improved health and wealth outcomes and better outcomes for children. Marriage also remains an autonomous decision-making process involving a search for a partner, despite the use of the term 'marriage market.' While love is a critical element in marriage, it can be challenging to measure. Regardless of cultural differences, marriage rates continue to decline globally, and it remains to be seen whether marriage will remain relevant in the future.

The Changing Landscape of Marriage and Dating Preferences.

Marriage rates in Europe have halved since the 1960s, leading to a rise in cohabiting couples. Women who attend more elite colleges are less likely to marry, but when they do, they're more likely to marry men who are highly educated, leading to assortative matching. Studies on dating apps and speed-dating experiments show a preference for assortative matching, but it's challenging to disentangle whether it's a true preference or a reflection of the market. Marriage and long-term relationships require more careful consideration than dating, where there's more experimentation. American singles polled by showed varying preferences in partners based on age, ethnicities, and geography.

The Importance of Assortative Mating in Human Behavior and Its Implications on Income Inequality

Assortative mating, or the tendency to be drawn to people with similar backgrounds and values, is a fundamental aspect of human mating behavior. While people often prioritize partners who share their political views, ethnic and religious backgrounds, socioeconomic status, intelligence, good looks, education, and reproductive and economic goals, this is not a guarantee of falling in love. Assortative mating is also an important factor in income inequality, as high-income people tend to marry other high-income people. Understanding and addressing income inequality is crucial, as extreme concentration of wealth and income can distort important political processes in society and lead to social and economic instability.

The High-Stakes London Season for Aristocratic Marriages

The London Season in 19th-century England was the world's most exclusive marriage market, with a finite set of players and clear incentives for parents and children. While arranged marriages were no longer acceptable, parents ensured that their children only met the 'right sort of people,' preferably within the high aristocracy and peerage, and with large amounts of land ownership and high income. The English aristocracy kept impeccable records of their children's social engagements, providing valuable data for economists like Marc Goñi of the University of Bergen. Understanding the determinants of inequality in such exclusive markets is important for addressing wealth monopolization in society.

The Queen's Central Role in the Marriage Market of the Season of Aristocracy

The Queen played a central role in the marriage market during the Season of aristocracy by choosing who would be presented at the court and invited to parties. The marriage market was essentially a closed system where aristocrats of marriageable age attended only parties that included others in their social sphere. However, this closed system temporarily opened up during Queen Victoria's three-year interruption due to her mother and husband's unexpected deaths. The activity was greatly reduced as the Queen was not coordinating it, showing how important her role was in the Season.

Class-Diverse Marriages in 19th Century London: A Shift towards Love and Personal Preference?

The interruption of London's Season in the 19th century led to fewer marriages within the aristocracy and more 'class-diverse marriages.' Despite the decline in prestige and wealth, this may have led to more marriages based on love and personal preference. While measuring love and happiness in marriages is rather difficult, the number of children born after the production of an heir can serve as a proxy for marital happiness. Although marrying outside of one's social standing was frowned upon, it may have resulted in happier marriages overall.

The Impact of 19th Century Marriage Interruption on Society and Education

The interruption of the marriage market in 19th century England resulted in a decrease in peer-commoner intermarriage, and reduced sorting along landed wealth, leading to a reduction in political power of the aristocracy. As a result, the state education system was expanded due to a decrease in aristocratic influence, which they opposed fearing the educated labor force would emigrate. The three-year interruption had a negative effect on the aristocracy, but it was a positive move towards reducing inequality. Before the modern dating apps, people used to meet only a few people throughout their life. The consequences of marrying outside one's peer group can have significant political and economical implications, as seen from the London season marriage market.

The Relevance of Shakespearean Adaptations in Examining Modern Relationships

Shakespeare's plays, adapted for modern audiences, remain relevant today in exploring themes of courtship and marriage. In Romeo and Juliet, the importance of wealth and social class is highlighted through the characters' conflicts. Juliet's father seeks to marry her to County Paris, an aristocrat, in order to move up in the social hierarchy. The play also sheds light on the marriage markets of Elizabethan times, where many people remained unmarried due to limited opportunities for meeting potential partners. Today, technology has revolutionized the way we connect with others and expanded our options for finding love.

The Dominance of Online Dating in Creating Romantic Relationships

The digital marketplace is now the clear leader in romantic relationships, with about 40% of singles having met their last partner on the internet. Those who met through online services are more likely to be well-educated and fully employed, and seeking committed long-term partnerships. While the introduction services offered by the Match Group and other dating sites are not limiting the sorts of people who consort with each other, different sites do take on certain kinds of personalities. Additionally, the industry is becoming more segmented with sites catering to specific groups, such as Black People Meet and J-Date. OurTime, a dating site for people over 50, is also becoming increasingly popular.

The Consequences of Matching Technology on Marriage & Inequality

Today's dating apps try to replicate the exclusivity of the past by creating matches around specific characteristics. However, the institutional arrangements of historical settings were important in determining marriages and perpetuated inequality. Matching technology in the modern era, such as dating apps, may have similar consequences beyond preferences. While some settings like universities may sort people without an explicit intention to find a partner, other settings like bars may be more explicit marriage markets. Digital tools may help us find needles in haystacks, but they also allow us to sort very specifically. Ultimately, matching technology can have important consequences for marriages and perpetuate social inequality.

The Pros and Cons of Assortative Matching on Dating Apps

Dating apps can facilitate meeting more people and considering more options before settling down, but the algorithm may also restrict the set of people you meet to those who are more similar to you. The concentration of similarly educated individuals in marriages may perpetuate distributional differences, but there is also the potential for brilliant children to be produced. The idea of assortative matching is a complex issue, with both positive and negative implications for society. Ultimately, the way in which we meet and choose our partners, whether through dating apps or other means, has the power to shape our future families and communities.