Internet Access and Partnership Formation in the United States

Maria Sironi , University College London
Ridhi Kashyap, University of Oxford

Unlike older communication technologies, the internet has broadened the scope for social interaction and enabled people to meet with people outside their existing social network. This feature of the technology is perhaps most salient for its role in helping people search for mates. While the internet may enlarge the pool of prospective partners, access to a larger pool may also delay the transition to partnership as the option for alternatives may induce individuals to search longer. We examine this effect of the internet on both heterosexual and homosexual partnership formation using nationally-representative data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth and the Current Population Survey from the US. We find that while the effect of the internet on the transition to partnership is negative at younger ages, the effect of the internet on increasing the propensity to partner becomes positive as individuals become older, for both homosexual and heterosexual partnerships.

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 Presented in Session 41. New Perspectives on Partnership Formation in the United States