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In response to the rise of online dating, economists Josué Ortega and Philipp Hergovich recently set out to examine its effects on society as reflected in the data on how our marriages and relationships are forming.I started reading about it, and was really surprised to find it’s very popular in the UK and US, because there’s this sense that Tinder and other platforms are just for hookups," Ortega said."When I came across the statistic that one third of marriages start online, and 70% of gay relationships, I was shocked," he said.While many have worried about the long-term potential of dating apps and sites, research suggests that such tools may actually be helping more people to get together in new ways, and for good.
"And the more I talked to people, the more I heard that they'd met their partners on Tinder and other sites." After reviewing data on how various kinds of relationships were forming in the wake on online dating, Ortega said, "It seemed like it was changing not just the number of interracial marriages, but also how we meet our spouses, and having other big consequences." So Ortega, an economics lecturer at the University of Essex, and Hergovich, who's pursuing a Ph D in economics at the University of Vienna, decided to test their hypotheses on how the internet has changed modern dating by crunching the numbers. To investigate the effects of online dating over time, they developed a theoretical framework and mathematical models which harnessed previous such exercises, decades' worth of data, and good old game-theoretic stability.When I saw our names in the print version of the Ortega said their work has received media interest reaching from Australia and the UK to Japan and Peru, but that he's also seen a number of heartening, very personal responses to their findings.For example, he said, "I thought Tinder was mostly for really young people, but sometimes when I'm giving talks, others will come up to me and share their stories--a professor of around 70 recently told me he met his second wife on there."It's worth noting, Ortega said, that such platforms have offered real advantages for those of us who have a hard time meeting people in real life, whether because of age, orientation, or disposition.That's been especially true for the queer community, he noted, and for older people looking for a partner.While many have worried about the long-term potential of dating apps and sites, research suggests that such tools may actually be helping more people to get together in new ways, and for good.