Thursday, February 09, 2006

Why Is There A Shidduch Crisis?

I have no idea why I haven't been blogging. Part of it is less free time (thanks to dating, although I'm not sure I'm still "dating" at this point, after meeting her parents and all), but also just less interesting stuff on my mind. But I've had a few conversations about shidduchim recently, so here are my thoughts:

Let's assume there is a shidduch crisis, by which I mean perfectly normal girls (or guys) are having a difficult time getting married. Why? Here are the reasons I've heard. Feel free to add a few:

1) There are less guys than girls. It all comes down to supply and demand. I know girls who got offended by framing the issue this way, but I don't see any way around it. If there are two girls for every guy (I doubt there is) and guys know it, then guys can be picky. Then only the "better" girls get taken and the rest have a difficult time marrying. In the absence of polygamy, we'd have a very difficult time getting these girls married.

Why the imbalance? It's not like Orthodox guys fight wars. And we don't purposely abort boys like what goes on in China (except that's girls). So it makes no sense that there's a huge imbalance.

a) Some people argue that the imbalance stems from girls entering the market earlier. If guys start dating at 23 and girls at 20, assuming there's an equal number of both sexes, there would be three extra years of girls on the market. Put in numbers, let's assume there are 50 guys and girls entering the market every year. That would put 150 extra girls on the market, creating the imbalance.

A friend challenged this argument (if I understood her correctly). She contended that despite the extra years, there should still be no problems. The extra girls on the market are not really extra, because there are less older girls, say from 24-27, than guys at that age. In other words a 26 year old guy will have a range of girls from 20-26. While the bottom of the range will have a high number of girls, there will be less girls from 24-26 than guys. And while there will still be an imbalance because there are basically no guys on the market from 20-23, the 24-26 year old girls can marry guys who are 27+. So basically the numbers equal out.

I'm not sure I'm totally sold on this argument, but it seems plausible and I suck at math, so let me know if it makes sense.

b) This friend argued that the imbalance is solely a result of guys getting approached first. Guys get a lot more offers simply because they get the offers first and have the option of waiting. A girl who receives an offer has no choice but to respond within a reasonable amount of time. She cannot just wait to see if anything better comes up.

So there really is no shidduch crisis because it's all illusory. Guys might think there are many more fish in the sea, but in reality the numbers are fairly even. Personally I think that would make guys picky, because of all the offers they get, but if I recall correctly she disagreed with that point.

c) There are more "good girls" than guys. Check out Josh's post on this issue. He explains it really well.

Is there really a shidduch crisis? I believe there is. I've spoken to too many girls who complained that their friends are really really nice, good, pretty people, but can't get married. I'm going to spend Shabbos in the Upper West Side, the bastion of singles hoping to marry.

Can we do something about it? I don't know. That's the million dollar question.

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