You’re not imagining things: The dating scene really does suck for women in Washington, and the reason why has nothing to do with love or romance.
It’s all about demographics: There are 49 percent more college-educated women in DC, age 24 and younger, than college-educated men. Americans typically marry within their same educational level, so it’s no wonder dating can be downright awful for women.
That’s the premise behind Jon Birger‘s recently released book, Date-onomics: How Dating Became a Lopsided Numbers Game. Birger, a former writer at Money and Fortune magazines, calls this phenomenon “the man deficit.”
He first caught on to the idea when he and his wife turned 30. They realized they didn’t have any single male friends. What they did have were a bunch of terrific female friends who just couldn’t find suitable partners. “That made no sense,” he says.
He started digging through Census data and discovered the problem was much bigger than his own experience. He says it’s a nationwide phenomenon. At birth, things are pretty straightforward: 1.05 boys are born in the US for every one girl. But when it comes to college-educated women between the ages of 22 and 29, the numbers shift considerably. In that case, there are four women for every three men.
Washington women have it pretty bad, but it’s actually worse elsewhere. The gap in Miami is a whopping 86 percent. It’s also tough finding a date in rural areas. “The surprising thing is that in rural states like Montana and Mississippi, this college man deficit is actually worse,” Birger says.
And the inverse applies to non-college-grads. In that cohort, there’s a deficit of ladies: “There’s an oversupply [of men] in the working class.” (Though the book focuses on straight couples, Birger also delves into how the gay and lesbian community affects the “heterosexual dating pool.”)
So what’s a gal to do? Accustomed to writing about what he describes as “boring stuff like the stock market and oil and gas,” Birger is the first to admit he’s no dating coach. But while self-help books rattle on about how “he’s just not that into you,” his book offers a very different explanation: “It’s that there aren’t enough of him.”
In other words, it’s not a woman’s fault she can’t find a partner. “It seems from reading a lot of dating books… the message is, ‘You’re going about it wrong,'” Birger says. “My message is, ‘This is not a strategic problem. This is a demographic problem.”
His advice, as you might expect, is more wonky than inspirational: “The long term solution is to get more men to attend college. This is a labor, economic problem.”
There you have it, ladies.