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Internet and Partnership Formation in the United States

Sat, August 11, 2:30 to 4:10pm, Philadelphia Marriott Downtown, Level 4, Franklin Hall 2

Abstract

Unlike older communication technologies, the internet has broadened the scope for social interaction and enabled people to meet and interact with people outside their existing social network. This feature
of the technology is perhaps most salient for its role in helping people search for mates. While the internet may enlarge the pool of prospective partners, access to a larger pool may also delay the
transition to partnership as the option for alternatives may induce individuals to search longer. We empirically examine this effect of the internet on both heterosexual and homosexual partnership formation using nationally-representative data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth from the US. We find that while the effect of the internet on the transition to heterosexual partnership is negative at younger ages, the effect of the internet on increasing the propensity to partner becomes positive as individuals become older, for both homosexual and heterosexual partnerships.

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