Tinder Economy

Joel Hernandez
Insights Newsletter
14 February, 2020

Depending on your own experience with dating apps, you might be surprised to learn that success in the online dating market is not distributed equally.

So, this Valentine’s Day, spare a thought for those struggling to find love among the insidious and “unjust” inequality on apps like Tinder or Bumble. But it exposes the limits of policymaking: there will always be areas of human life with natural imbalances which no government can perfectly fix.

Tinder is a simple app. Users swipe right on other users’ photos to signal their eagerness to date and hopefully receive a return “like” from their prospect. However, if there’s no chemistry then swiping left is the equivalent to faking a call from your mother to escape an admirer at the bar. 

Based on one rough estimate by the anonymous economist who goes by the pseudonym ‘Worst-Online Dater,’ the Tinder economy is more unequal than 95.1% of the world’s countries based on the Gini coefficient – a standard measure of inequality.

Ok, so you’re not Brad Pitt, but you’re at least a “6” on the hotness scale. You should be fine, right? Not really. The top 20% most attractive men are competing for the top 78% of all women while a whopping 80% of men compete for the bottom 22% of women.

A potential reason for this inequality is that men are 6.2 times more likely to swipe right compared to females. In other words, men are less discriminating than women – who knew?

A man of average attractiveness is expected to be “liked” by a miniscule one in 115 women on Tinder, only a 0.87% success rate. If these sound like poor odds, they are.

Many keen male Tinder users have probably had a sneaking suspicion about this reality for many years. They’ll be somewhat relieved to know there is data confirming this and, ironically, that they’re not alone with their concerns. About 80% of guys are stuck on the same unsuccessful boat.

If this were any other part of the economy, men would be clamouring for some form of government assistance. A subsidised gym membership perhaps or maybe even plastic surgery for those most in need?

In fairness to online dating, many Gen-Xer’s and Millennials likely know at least one couple that met on Tinder and some of us might even know a Tinder baby.

This Valentine’s Day, if online dating isn’t your thing, you could always do it the old-fashioned way and go to a bar or party and try meet someone there, I guess.

Then again, one out of 115 is better than nothing right?

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