Online dating and its global impact | The Economist

Online-dating apps Tinder and Bumble have generated 20bn matches around the world. On Valentine's day we examine the effect of the online-dating revolution.

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Whether you’re after guys with bushy beards, a partner who has a passion for classical music or you want to find love for you and your pooch–there’s a dating app to meet your needs.

In 1995 match.com became the first major online-dating site. Today there are hundreds of sites and apps. It has gone from taboo to the thing to do.

But what impact is this having on society?

Whitney Wolfe could lay claim to being the 21st century’s most prolific cupid. As co-founder of dating app Tinder and CEO of Bumble, her digital-dating devices have generated 20bn matches.

Today around 295 million people use online-dating services all around the world. The Netherlands tops the list with 12.5% of the population dating online. South Korea follows closely behind with 12.4%. In China, one app alone, Momo, has 180 million registered users.

But online dating has enabled people to meet potential partners from further afield. One study by MIT suggests that online dating in America has led to more interracial marriages. The technology has also made it much easier for straight middle-aged people to find love. 70% of same-sex couples in America now meet online.

Some argue the apps are breaking down barriers and changing social norms.

Bumble is an app in which women make the first move.

Despite the benefits of online dating, there are concerns too. Meeting total strangers is risky. Fake profiles are common and sexual predators can exploit the sites. In Britain, the increase in online dating has gone hand-in-hand with a rise in dating-related crime. Although the numbers are small.

Despite the growing popularity of online dating, the majority of straight couples in America still meet through friends. But according to the projections of some online dating companies, 30% of all relationships will start online by 2026.

Online dating is big and it’s set to get bigger.

Maybe online love will conquer all?

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(Source: The Economist, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3qPlglxzt5c)