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I recently discovered for myself the frenzy that has consumed my generation: online dating. In addition to the old standbys of Match.
The inequality of online dating
While some may declare that these apps spell the death of romancethey are here to stay. And that raises the question: casual and noncommittal as it may seem to online date, do our swipes carry material consequences for the marriage market?
In theory, apps like Tinder offer us the chance to expand our networks beyond our campuses, workplaces, and wherever else we meet people who are socioeconomically similar. But in practice, not so much. In fact, it becomes quickly obvious that, regardless of the app or website in question, users pair off within social strata—myself included. On most of these apps, users swipe through a series of profiles that often consist of no more than a few photos and, importantly, a workplace and alma mater. Notably, Tinder did not always feature the second set of details, unlike its competitors.
Racial biases also determine how we select matches. Among straight OkCupid users, the data show that women across the board favor men of the same race or ethnicity, while black women face discrimination on the website—a phenomenon that online daters have masterfully detailed online.
The result is that people couple up along socioeconomic lines. Case in point: of the three people I met up with from Tinder, each was white and had the social and economic capital to build enviable s and graduate from some of the most elite institutions in the country.
Of course, none of this is new exactly. Over the past fifty years, the likelihood that two people with a college diploma will marry each other has risen markedly. In a labor market as polarized as the one we face today, wage increases have mostly accrued to college graduates. And given the tendency to marry someone with similar education levels, a pair of well-educated breadwinners can pool those incomes to form a stable financial bedrock for a marriage.
Among this demographic, marriage rates have actually risen over the past few decades, while divorce rates have fallen. The opposite is true for Americans with less education. Wages have stagnated over the past half-century as globalization has driven factory work overseas. Employer hostility coupled with changes in labor law have hacked away at union strongholds.
Blue-collar jobs, which once paid wages that allowed a single breadwinner to support a family, have been replaced by low-wage work in the service sector. And so, while a steady income and job stability are hard to come by for many Americans, they remain a prerequisite for marriage, as was the case in the post-war era.
The result is that Americans with lower education levels are less likely to get hitched. And if they do get married, financial strain has made them more likely to divorce.
It is in this era of social stratification that a marriage gap has emerged—a gap that apps are certainly not equipped to remedy. Never mind exclusive apps like the League, which puts a premium on prestigious college degrees and high-income careers. Hinge, for example, is much more democratic—anyone can .
But it sorts users based on social networks, which means that a college graduate whose Facebook friends also have a four-year degree is far more likely to match with someone with similar levels of education. To add to these disparities, these apps are simply used in greater frequency by the relatively affluent. While 46 percent of college-educated Americans know someone who met a long-term partner or spouse online, only 18 percent of those with high school degrees can say the same.
Moreover, a full 58 percent of college graduates know someone who has dated online, versus just 25 percent of high school graduates. Why is this the case? One intuitive theory is that low-income people simply cannot foot the bill for all of the coffees and cocktails often associated with dates. With unpredictable work schedules, which are all too common among low-wage workers, it may also be logistically difficult to make plans. And young adults with lower incomes also are more likely to live with parents and even grandparents, which makes it even harder to date.
The digital divide may also for some differences in use. In the more extreme cases, when people struggle to make ends meet at the end of the month, the cell phone bill is often the first to go. A full 23 percent of smartphone owners have had to shut off service due to financial constraints. Today, 5 percent of Americans who are in committed relationships or marriages met online.
Serious online dating
I suspect this will only climb as these apps grow in popularity. But as income inequality widens—fueled in part by our tendency to gravitate towards those who are similar to us—apps can do very little to stymie this very behavior. They very well may accelerate it. America is facing a looming retirement crisis.
And to make matters worse, 68 million Americans currently do not have access to a retirement savings plan through their employer. Contrast that with Congress, where every Member and millions of federal employees are able to take advantage of what is known as the Thrift Savings Plan TSP. The TSP helps ensure a secure retirement through automatic enrollment; simple, easy-to-understand, investment options; and low fees—all of which are proven to increase retirement savings.
Giving every worker who lacks an employer-provided retirement savings plan access to a plan like the TSP is a no-brainer.
Your last first date could be one match away
Americans who are self-employed would have the option to open an ASA at any time. These s would also benefit workers by featuring the same sensible investment options that are offered to federal employees. Workers would control their own s directly through a website, and an independent board of directors would manage the investment of the funds. The Center for American Progress Action Fund found that a worker saving under a similar plan would be more than twice as likely to have a secure retirement than a worker contributing the same amount to a typical k plan—to say nothing of the difference between a worker with this kind of plan and one with no retirement savings at all.
We also need to strengthen Social Security. But Social Security was never intended to be the sole source of income for retirees, which is why we need to also make it easier for Americans to set aside and build savings that can supplement their Social Security income. Expanding access in the manner called for under the American Savings Act would help shore up our retirement system—which, ever since the decline of private-sector pensions, has increasingly failed to meet the needs of a ificant part of our workforce.
As one of millions in this country struggling to make ends meet, I am weary of inequality and poverty—not only from my own personal hardship and the financial hurdles that exhaust me each day, but also because of the differences in treatment I experience compared to the more affluent. Case in point: Denver, my hometown—one of the fastest growing cities in the United States. On the 16 th Street Mall in Downtown Denver, young professionals walk past homeless individuals daily. And in areas like Park Hill, while the majority-black side of the neighborhood struggles with poverty and gang violence, middle and upper class families—mostly non-minorities—live in architecturally ornate homes valued at over a half-million dollars.
These inequalities are more than visual—they add to the huge burden that already weighs on those of us who face economic hardship. Research has demonstrated that inequalities in the housing market drive up rents, and Online dating Rapids NY only is no exception. While I am grateful that my children and I have been able to live in a two-bedroom apartment for eight years, my rent went up by 11 percent this year and it has been a struggle to meet that increase every month.
At this point, I cannot afford a three-bedroom rental which would be helpful to accommodate my growing childrenlet alone secure the money to put down a deposit. And there are also psychological impacts that arise from these inequalities. A study highlighted this phenomenon when it revealed that countries with high levels of income inequality face high rates of mental illness.
Online dating with elitesingles
In no country was this more evident than in the United States, where income inequality is associated with heightened risk of depressive symptoms and anxiety disorders. My children and I are frugal and enjoy everything we can on a minimal budget—which means not going to full-price movies more than two to three times a year, rarely visiting museums or attending events that cost money, and avoiding vacations.
In fact, last summer my kids and I took our first vacation in years—and it was 48 hours long. While we appreciate all that we are able to do and what we do have, it only exacerbates our hardship when we struggle to make rent month after month, and then look across the street to see a manicured lawn, two nice cars, and a double- or triple-sized garage attached to the five bedroom online dating Rapids NY only that holds a family of four.
When other kids are benefiting from enrichment activities outside of the classroom and have nannies to facilitate the processmy kids go without because I am not always able to be there at drop-off or pick-up time due to my unusual work schedule, and I cannot always afford the fees. And then there are health issues.
Unfortunately, the same principle applies to mental health care. And when those in poverty or on the brink of it cannot afford care, mental health needs often go untreated. Meanwhile, those who can afford a therapist or psychologist get the help that they need and it positively impacts their health. And as the gap widens between those who have enough and those who are barely making it, it threatens to divide us as a country and as a society. Two of the most widely cited statistics on inequities within the American labor market are that the average woman earns just 79 cents for every dollar earned by a man, and that the black unemployment rate is typically double that of whites.
While these statistics are partly ed for by differences in occupation or education, gender pay inequities persist even among men and women in the same joband the two-to-one unemployment disparity exists even for blacks and whites with the same level of education. What this means is that even among otherwise socioeconomically similar individuals, we can still observe differences in pay or employment that arise from discrimination. Although the explicitly discriminatory policies and practices that created these disparities are now illegal—thanks in part to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act ofwhich outlawed employment and pay discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin—the inequities persist.
Regardless of whether these biases are conscious or subconscious, patterns of old-fashioned segregation stand in the way of eradicating them.
Recently, I gained some profound insight into this phenomenon from a most unlikely place: a second-grade music class. The fact that it was a music class in a racially, ethnically, and socioeconomically diverse elementary school offered a powerful symbolism. Here were kids from two different classrooms, with distinct cultures, family backgrounds, and personalities blending their voices together in harmony.
Yet, even with the freedom to sit almost anywhere they chose, the students self-segregated by race and gender to a large degree. This seemed innocent enough at first.
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However, the broader implications of this tendency became more evident as the class went on. Halfway through the period, the kids began an exercise in which one student would bounce a ball to the rhythm of the song the class was singing.
Each time they finished a verse, that student would pass the ball on to someone else to continue the song. After a few rounds, one of the girls in the class spoke up about the fact that the boys were only passing the ball to other boys. When the teacher asked if other people had noticed the same thing, every girl and even a few boys in the class agreed.
After enlisting the students to come up with a solution to make the game fairer to those who had been excluded, the exercise d under the new rules. Shortly after, another student mentioned that only students from one classroom were getting the ball. By the time they worked through that problem, time had run out for them to complete the exercise.
There were at least three important takeaways from this simple example that can be applied to the way we perceive and address race and gender inequities in this country. I was heartened to see a second-grade teacher address biases within her classroom. With 2. But mass incarceration is not the end of the story.