There is meant to be a man drought, so I went looking for it. The department of statistics allows you to search all sorts of data and it is easy to get lost, but it quickly became clear that the man drought is only noticeable in the membership of the lawn bowls associations and in applications to Purgatory Gardens retirement village.
Nationwide, the department estimates we have 35,000 20-year-old men to 32,350 females of the same age. The glut of men does not taper off until we reach the 30-year-olds and thereafter there is a small but growing gap as men rush off to heaven or Brisbane at a slightly faster rate than the women.
So why claims of a man drought?
Overseas research indicates that the problem is not a lack of men, it is a lack of educated men. The rapid advancement of women into higher education and greater access to Jane Austen novels has increased female expectations. Men have let the side down by being, well, men.
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To understand the real man drought you need to visit our universities. Auckland reports 23,100 female students compared to a mere 17,700 males. AUT has only 8000 male domestic students compared to 12,600 female.
What's a girl to do?
One solution is to do as my wife did and settle for someone clearly inferior in all social indexes. An educated woman seeking an equally educated age-appropriate partner faces increasing competition from a diminishing pool of suitable candidates, which may explain the growing acceptance and success of internet match-making sites.
A study by University of Chicago researchers, published by the National Academy of Sciences in May, found that in the US such sites and other online introductions are responsible for a third of all marriages. Such marriages also show a better success rate than those who met through more traditional means. Those who met online have better jobs and education than their offline colleagues.
The data does not show why virtual connections prove more durable but the researchers speculate that a combination of greater selection and honesty in stated preferences may lead to a higher satisfaction rate when relationships form. It is also likely that those looking online are making a greater investment in their search for a partner and therefore more likely to be successful as a result.
For those who do meet away from an internet connection, the most successful marriages were formed by attending church, growing up together or meeting at non-work social gatherings. Meeting at bars, on blind dates and at work showed a lower level of satisfaction, as again my wife can attest.
All of which is good news for single educated men over 30 who date online.