Jon Birger is a contributor to Fortune magazine and has written for Time, Barron’s, Money and Bloomberg BusinessWeek. Below is an excerpt of his original article on Time.com
It’s not that He’s Just Not That Into You—it’s that There Just Aren’t Enough of Him.
Lopsided gender ratios don’t just make it statistically harder for college-educated women to find a match. They change behavior too. According to sociologists, economists and psychologists who have studied sex ratios throughout history, the culture is less likely to emphasize courtship and monogamy when women are in oversupply. Heterosexual men are more likely to play the field, and heterosexual women must compete for men’s attention.
Of course, tales of scarce men and sexual permissiveness in ancient Sparta won’t convince everyone, so I began to explore the demographics of modern religion. I wanted to show that god-fearing folks steeped in old-fashioned values are just as susceptible to the effects of shifting sex ratios as cosmopolitan, hookup-happy 20-somethings who frequent Upper East Side wine bars.
Eventually I hit pay dirt.
One of my web searches turned up a study from Trinity College’s American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) on the demographics of Mormons. According to the ARIS study, there are now 150 Mormon women for every 100 Mormon men in the state of Utah—a 50 percent oversupply of women. On a lark, I emailed my friend Cynthia Bowman, a devout Mormon who grew up in Salt Lake City and returns there often, and asked her whether Mormon sex ratios are as lopsided as the ARIS study claimed.
Yes, she told me, the ratios are lopsided. And yes, Mormon men take full advantage. “They wait for the next, more perfect woman,” grumbled Bowman, a veterinarian in San Diego. Premarital sex remains taboo for Mormons, but the shortage of Mormon men was pushing some women over the brink. “There might actually be a more promiscuous dating culture than there otherwise would be in the Mormon culture because of this gap.”
Months later, still neck-deep in Mormon research, I got lucky again. I received an email from a hedge fund manager who wanted to talk to me about a job. I called back to thank him but explained I was busy writing a book. He asked what the book was about, and I wound up telling him about the Mormon marriage crisis.