Living Economics

Guy Glut
A serious surplus of single high-tech men has spawned a flourishing matchmaking industry.

The Silicon Valley has the dubious distinction of being the capital of surplus single men in America, supplanting the once unbeatable Anchorage, AL. Palo Alto, for instance, has 36 percent more men than women (New York Times 4/10/00). And San Jose has the biggest single-man surplus of anyplace in America (Business Week 3/06/00).

Compare that with the national statistics - 43 million single women vs. 36 million single men - and you can see that a romantic crisis has developed and is crying out for solutions (Business Week 3/06/00).

Economic theory predicts that such extreme scarcity would increase the search costs for dates and encourage new businesses that could help contain such search costs.

Indeed, the geek glut has spawned an industry of matchmakers and image consultants. For example, guys and gals can sign up for Match.com or Matchmaker.com to check each other out via the Net. Table for Six (The service has 2,300 members in all, with about 750 of those in Silicon Valley) arranges group activities such as dinners, hang gliding, beer tastings, theater outings and dances.

While these services are not cheap, they save time that is even more valuable. The 24-7 nature of the typical high-tech guy's career often means little time is available for time-consuming date search activities. On the other hand, the average $150,000 to $300,000 annual salary of the Mountain View branch's members of Table for Six can easily afford any expensive match-making services (San Francisco Chronicle 2/11/00). Some men will even ante up as much as $10,000 for a matchmaker to help find them a potential bride (Business Week 3/6/00).

Normally, the law of supply and demand would come to the rescue by the influx of gold-digging gals. But such relief is nowhere in sight. The high cost of living and housing in the Silicon Valley has made it all but impossible to attract any unmarried girls without high-tech skills. With so much money around, living costs in Santa Clara are some 40% higher than in the rest of the country. Costs have exploded the most in home prices, up by 65% in the past five years - more than three times faster than the national average (Business Week 3/27/00).

References:
  • Bernstein, A. "Down and out in Silicon Valley," Business Week 3/27/00.
  • Conlin, Michelle. "Valley of dolls," Business Week 3/6/00.
  • Knight, H. "Date expectations," The San Francisco Chronicle 02/11/00.
  • Nieves, E. "In man-rich Silicon Valley, it seems like strikeout.com," The New York Times 4/10/00.
  • Stone, B. "Valley of the doll-less," Newsweek 8/16/99.
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