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Online Endogamy Reconsidered: The Internet’s Effects on Racial, Educational, Religious, Political and Age Assortative Mating

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


Increases in the rates of interracial and interreligious couples within the U.S. have occurred seemingly in tandem with the rise of the Internet and online dating, but the evidence connecting online sources of romance and couple heterogeneity have been limited and mixed. Using a unique dataset on how U.S. couples met, collected in 2009 and again in 2017, I find that couples who met online are more likely to be interracial, interreligious, and of different college degree status, but more similar in age. Political and parental education endogamy are not related to whether or not the couple met online. Different types of online meetings affect different couple characteristics: dating websites and apps are not associated with greater racial diversity than offline meetings, but other Internet sources are, which includes online communities, games and chat rooms. Only dating websites/apps are predictive of educational diversity and age-similarity. Couples who meet by a combination of on- and offline means are not different from those who meet purely offline. Population-level endogamy estimates suggests that only a little of the recent changes in couple diversity can be directly attributed to couples meeting online, but there is the potential for larger Internet-induced change if it becomes the primary source of romantic introductions.