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The Social Demography of Internet Dating in the United States

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THE SOCIAL DEMOGRAPHY OF INTERNET DATING IN THE UNITED STATES*

Jessica M. Sautter Rebecca M. Tippett S. Phillip Morgan Duke University Durham, NC

*The authors share equal authorship. We thank Doug Downey, Mary Madden, Emilio Parrado, and Lynn Smith-Lovin for comments on earlier drafts and the Pew Internet & American Life Project for making the data used here available. Earlier versions of this paper were presented at the Southern Sociological Society Meetings, March 25, 2006 and the Southern Demographic Association Meetings, November 5, 2005. We acknowledge research support from an NIH contract, “New Approaches to Explaining Family Change and Variation” (N01-HD-3-3354). Direct correspondence to Rebecca M. Tippett: Department of Sociology, Duke University, Box 90088, Durham, NC 27708-0088. E-mail: rtippett@soc.duke.edu

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Social Demography of Internet Dating THE SOCIAL DEMOGRAPHY OF INTERNET DATING IN THE UNITED STATES

Abstract: Using the first nationally representative survey to focus on internet dating, we identify those “at risk” of using internet dating, i.e., one must have internet access and have been single in the past five years during the technology’s growth. We identify socio-demographic correlates of both these selective processes and estimate use of internet dating net of these processes. We find that socioeconomic and demographic factors have strong effects on the selective processes but weak effects on use of internet dating services once the sample is conditioned on these factors. Instead, for this “at risk” subpopulation, familiarity with the internet, actively looking for a partner, and knowing someone who has used internet dating are strong proximate determinants of internet dating.

INTRODUCTION: THE EMERGENCE OF INTERNET DATING In March 2006, the Pew Internet &...

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