Khazan: What about people who say that there is a paralysis of choice—that online dating makes us non-committal because we can always go on a date with somebody else?
Yagan: I think that means you end up in a better relationship. When you decide to stop going on OkCupid dates, it means you’re happy with the date you have. I think one reason we have high divorce rates is because people have had limited pools. You only had the pool of people who lived in your town or who you went to college with or who go to your gym.
Relationships that start online are much more heterogeneous than those that start offline by the simple nature of the fact that the people near you are more similar to you than the people who span a broader geography. So I think it gives you much better selection, not just more selection..
My friend, an Econ PhD candidate at Berkeley, and I have often debated the merits of online dating. (Fun fact: we actually met on OkCupid.) Our conclusion is that online dating is best for folks with edge preferences, as it offers better filtering and wider top-of-the-funnel.
I like Yagan’s answer on the paradox of choice because it proposes marital satisfaction in America as a “smile” or J curve. Social media and online dating has decreased friction for unhappy relationships/marriages to end and for folks to start new relationships. At first, this could contribute to an uptick in divorce rates, but over time, the hope is that more data and wider top-of-the-funnel will result in happier couples.