How Millennials Find Matches and Why It Matters

Is it possible that having a mate with good credit is the least of our worries?

Love is a many-splendored thing, the song goes. Remember when the old saw was, “opposites attract” and “love at first sight?” 

“Millennials are on track to be the least entrepreneurial generation in recent history.”

Now, technology is butting in on pheromones. “Looking for Love?” the Washington Post inquires. “A poor credit score can make you less attractive in a dating scene.”

It’s hard to imagine: a couple guys sitting at the bar spy an attractive woman. One says, “Wow, look at her. She’s smokin' hot.” The other dryly replies, “Yeah, but I wonder what her FICO score is.”

Market Demand

It may seem difficult to believe that there is demand for something called creditscoredating.com. However, as the Washington Post reports, “Almost two in five U.S. adults said knowing someone’s credit score would affect their interest in dating that person, according to the Bankrate.com report released this week.” No wonder Millennials don’t want to take a chance on someone with bad credit.Which gender is most interested in knowing a potential partner’s credit history? Surely it is women, who intuitively have lower time preferences as young adults than men.

“Fifty percent of women said a certain credit score might have them think twice about dating someone, while just 35 percent of men said it would factor into the appeal of a date,” reports Michelle Singletary, with older Millennials (27-36) most interested in a potential partner’s paying patterns.

The Complacent Class

Finding a mate via credit score is an example of what Tyler Cowen writes extensively about in The Complacent Class. Matching people with potential mates is what technology does best and most efficiently. “Without conscious intent or explicit planning of anyone in particular, rapidly evolving technology has turned us into a nation of matchers,” writes Cowen.

Interestingly, testing and “occupying students with the safest possible activities” has made Millennials less entrepreneurial than other generations.

“The mood of the times really matters.”

“The share of Americans under 30 who own a business has fallen by about 65 percent since the 1980s,” Cowen writes. He quotes John Lettieri, cofounder of the Economic Innovation Group, who claims, “Millennials are on track to be the least entrepreneurial generation in recent history.”

No wonder Millennials don’t want to take a chance on someone with bad credit.

Matching would seem to be a positive thing, but Cowen has his doubts. Instead of society “building a new and freer world,” matching tends toward “rearranging the pieces in the world we already have.”

The George Mason professor contends:

“There was something to be said for less compatible, more challenge-laden accidental pairings with all their conflicts and messy resolutions.”

Cowen mentions a study from 1932 that found that more than one-third of couples in a particular Philadelphia neighborhood married someone who lived within five blocks. Today, that same percentage of couples meet online.

What all this superior matching means is, in Cowen’s view:

“More segregation by income and educational status and indirectly more segregation by race in many parts of the country, even as racial tolerance has never been higher.”

Is "Matching" Culture Problematic?

So, those fairy tale love stories of the rich girl falling for the handsome boy from the other side of the tracks is less likely to happen. High achievers will find other high achievers: with good credit. Lawyers will marry lawyers, investment bankers will be with investment bankers, and so on. While it’s great for the wealthy, this uber matching will make it “harder for many others to break into these very exclusive pairings.”

This downside of matching is just one small piece of evidence leading to Professor Cowen’s conclusion that America is:

“Losing the ability to regenerate itself in the ways it did previously, as during the postwar era or the Reagan revolution or even the good times of much of the Clinton administration.”

Americans don’t like change. We like control and obsess over safety. Americans move less and challenge fundamental ideas less. “We are using the acceleration of information transmission to decelerate changes in our physical world.”

The law doesn't help either. In the 1950s, only five percent of workers were required to hold a government-issued license. By 2008, that percentage had grown to 29 percent.

Cowen does see signs of change. Like Robert Prechter’s Socionomics, Cowen says, “The mood of the times really matters,” and he sees societal mood changing, evidenced by political instability and general distrust in government.

He explains that “untrusted governments usually have to resort to subterfuge, lies, and trickery, and that tends to come bundled with corruption, economic distortions, and a general lack of transparency.”

Given the events of the last week in Washington, he couldn’t be more right. Gen. Michael Hayden, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency, writes in The Hill, With three high-profile firings in quick succession, it's beginning to feel a little bit like Nicaragua around here.”

It’s possible that having a mate with good credit is the least of our worries.

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