I can’t help but think about the logistical nature of singledom when I see this:
In practice, dating markets are similar to labor markets in that both are what are known as two-sided matching markets. (This sort of market simply means that both sides are specifically looking for counterparties that are good matches for their preferences.) When labor markets don’t line up perfectly, we get unemployment, and economists have defined different types of unemployment in order to better understand why we see individuals who fail to make a job match. It stands to reason, then, that there should be analogous concepts for dating markets. Let me give it an initial stab:
- Voluntary unemployment = voluntary singledom: when one is the dumper.
- Involuntary unemployment = involuntary singledom: when one is the dumpee.
- Frictional unemployment = frictional singledom: singledom that arises due to the fact that it takes some time to find a new match. (I suppose that sites like okcupid reduce frictional singledom in the same way that monster.com reduces frictional unemployment.)
- Cyclical unemployment = cyclical singledom: singledom that arises due to lulls in the dating market- maybe it’s winter and single people have gone into hibernation, or maybe cyclical singledom actually correlates with cyclical unemployment, since it’s hard to take people on dates when unemployed.
- Structural unemployment = structural singledom: singledom that arises because, sorry kid, the market just ain’t looking for what you are putting out there. One solution to structural unemployment is to acquire new skills, and I leave it to you to ponder what this would mean in the context of a dating market.
Like unemployment, structural singledom is likely to be a more long-term phenomenon and thus more of a concern from a policy standpoint. If I were to continue this analogy, I fear that I would find myself calling for government-sponsored charm school or something…except that labor economists such as Ed Lazear argue that we aren’t actually observing structural unemployment, so maybe there’s also hope for the single nerds of the world too.