Marriage rates among twentysomethings grow in areas after broadband internet becomes available, according to a new study on the correlation between broadband adoption and tying the knot. Is the connection thanks to online dating or social media humblebragging or something else entirely?
Twentysomethings were less likely to marry in 2000 than they were in 1980, or '85, '90, or '95, but high-income women are actually (and are the only group of women) likely to be married today than they were in the 1970s. Some believe that's because marriage has become somewhat of a luxury rather than a necessity for many U.S. women; young mothers are no longer afraid of the stigma of divorce or living "in sin," so marriage is an aspirational goal instead of a necessity.
But Andriana Bellou, the author of a new paper, "The Impact of Internet Diffusion on Marriage Rates: Evidence from the Broadband Market," didn't just find that women in high-income areas are more likely to have broadband access and get married; she found that "marriage rates grew on average more in states with greater increases in broadband penetration."
HMMM. The Atlantic Wire chalks the findings up to online dating — the internet presumably makes "it easier to find suitable singles on the Internet" — but I wonder whether social media could possibly be a factor. Thanks to Instagram and Pinterest and all those impressingly/intimidatingly curated wedding blogs, your marriage no longer has to be limited to your close friends and family. There's pressure to make it a perfect day not only for IRL attendants but so your quirky table settings and one-of-a-kind flower girl dresses live on forever on your screen, scoring Like after Like after Like. And if you know all your friends are having fantastic weddings thanks to blingy ring Facebook statuses and Instagrammed cake, maybe you're more likely to jump on the bandwagon.
Bellou also brings up quantity vs. quality: does the internet make the marriage market better, or just easier?
If targeted search leads to matches of more compatible people, such matches will likely be more stable. However, if meeting people becomes easier at all times and ages so that a divorce seems less costly, then this could imply entering a marriage less thoughtfully to begin with. In the latter case, we might expect higher marriage rates (related to Internet expansion) but also higher incidence of divorce.
No one's made a viral divorce video set to Bruno Mars, though. Yet.
Image via Daniilantiq/Shutterstock.