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The Strength of Absent Ties: Social Integration via Online Dating

Josue Ortega, Philipp Hergovich

posted on 02 October 2017

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We used to marry people to which we were somehow connected to: friends of friends, schoolmates, neighbours. Since we were more connected to people similar to us, we were likely to marry someone from our own race.
However, online dating has changed this pattern: people who meet online tend to be complete strangers. Given that one-third of modern marriages start online, we investigate theoretically, using random graphs and matching theory, the effects of those previously absent ties in the diversity of modern societies.
We find that when a society benefits from previously absent ties, social integration occurs rapidly, even if the number of partners met online is small. Our findings are consistent with the sharp increase in interracial marriages in the U.S. in the last two decades.

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