New research published in the journal Physics and Society has suggested online dating may be aiding social integration.
‘The Strength of Absent Ties: Social Integration via Online Dating’ investigated whether meeting complete strangers online (vs friends of friends offline) was having an impact on the diversity of social networks.
The research is pertinent – couples are meeting online at a rapidly increasing rate, and traditional modes of networking (e.g. meeting in Church) have been in steady decline for over a decade.
This is especially true for same-sex couples – around 30% of gay and lesbian relationships began online in the year 2000, and this increased to around 70% in the 2010s.
The study hypothesises that meeting complete strangers would allow people to make connections across racially segregated communities, and this would integrate these communities as a result.
Less segregated communities have a number of societal benefits – a migrant marrying a local has a higher chance of finding employment, for example.
By running simulations, the investigation found the introduction of online dating to a society increased the rate of interracial romance significantly. It also found that relationships that began online were more stable.
These findings are consistent with wider literature, and with demographic figures from the United States. The authors say of the research:
“It suggests that the diversity of societies, measured by the number of interracial marriages in it, should increase drastically after the introduction of online dating.
“Societies where online dating is available should produce marriages that are less likely to break up. Both predictions are consistent with observed demographic”.