Marriage, Choice, and Couplehood in the Age of the Internet

Michael J. Rosenfeld

Sociological Science, September 18, 2017
DOI 10.15195/v4.a20

Abstract

Citation

How do the Internet and social media technology affect our romantic lives? Critics of the Internet’s effect on social life identify the overabundance of choice of potential partners online as a likely source of relationship instability. This study examines longitudinal data showing that meeting online does not predict couple breakup. Meeting online (and particularly meeting through online dating websites) predicts faster transitions to marriage for heterosexual couples. I do not claim to measure any causal effect of Internet technology on relationship longevity or marriage formation. Rather, I suggest that the data are more consistent with a positive or neutral association between Internet technology and relationships than with a negative association between the Internet and romantic relationships.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Michael J. Rosenfeld: Department of Sociology, Stanford University
Email: mrosenfe@stanford.edu

Acknowledgements: This project was generously supported by the National Science Foundation, grants SES-0751977 and SES-1153867, M. Rosenfeld principal investigator, with additional funding from Stanford’s Institute for Research in the Social Sciences and Stanford’s United Parcel Service endowment. Thanks to Reuben J. Thomas, Amanda Mireles, Kate Weisshaar, Jasmine Hill, Ariela Schachter, Taylor Orth, Stanford’s Graduate Family Workshop, and anonymous reviewers for comments on earlier drafts.

  • Citation: Rosenfeld. Michael J. 2017. “Marriage, Choice, and Couplehood in the Age of the Internet.” Sociological Science 4: 490-510.
  • Received: June 6, 2017
  • Accepted: August 8, 2017
  • Editors: Olav Sorenson, Stephen Morgan
  • DOI: 10.15195/v4.a20

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