In fact, the study notes, marriage rates are between 13 percent and 30 percent higher than they’d be without the advent of broadband technology. The basic intuition here is that stuff like online dating makes it easier for people to find potential partners — or, as University of Montreal economist Andriana Bellou puts it, the Internet “has the potential to reduce search frictions.” That’s not utterly implausible. Researchers have already noted that the Internet allows us to find jobs and homes more easily. Why not spouses?
Yglesias, who met his wife online, shares his thoughts on digital courtship:
I would say that this is an underrated benefit of recent technological innovation. It has become somewhat fashionable to dismiss the web and digital communication as not all that significant in economic terms. But if you dial back to 1993, you’d find that the U.S. was already a land of material abundance by any realistic standard. Innovations that have helped us build and maintain richer connections with other people are in fact extremely valuable relative to that baseline.