Only 3% of American singles are worth dating

In honour of Valentine’s Day, Business Insider has figured out why so many Americans have no reason to celebrate.

It turns out only 3.1% of young American singles are ‘eligible’ dates.

Now before you get up in arms about how we came to this conclusion, understand that this was all done by the numbers using 2013 American Community Survey microdata from the IPUMS project at the Minnesota Population Center. That means that we started off with a list of over 3 million records, and over 1 million of those records belonged to America’s singles.

So, now onto the important part: how we decided what made someone eligible.

We recently observed that about half of all of adult Americans are single. But that’s generally not enough to make someone worth dating.

Discounting this superficial stuff (like good hair, smelling nice, a great Spotify library) we decided to find how many of those young, single adults have got what (many consider) really matters in a partner — a good job/stable income, independant lifestyle, and high level of education.

Specifically, we pulled the following characteristics of ‘eligibility’ from the American Community Survey:

  • Is actually single: The survey data let us see whether respondents are currently married or living with an unmarried partner. We filtered out the about half of all adults who are in such a serious relationship. Unfortunately, ACS data doesn’t tell us whether or not respondents are in a relationship with someone they don’t live with, so a few partnered people might have fallen through the cracks.
  • Is between the ages of 18 and 40.
  • Doesn’t live with their parents: The data also tell us whether or not respondents live with one or both of their parents. People who have boomeranged were filtered out of our list.
  • Doesn’t live in group housing, like a college dorm, prison, or mental institution.
  • Has at least a Bachelor’s degree: The data include information on educational attainment. Since we’re looking for the cream of the crop, we restrict our list further to people with a Bachelor’s, Master’s, Doctorate, or post-graduate professional degree.
  • Is employed.
  • Earns at least 80% of the median income of a full-time, year-round worker of their gender and metropolitan area (or state, if they don’t live in a metro area).

After filtering through all of our above criteria, we were left with just 29,875 survey respondents that fall into our highly eligible single category.

That’s right. Just 29,875 respondents out of a total of 3,712,827 respondents.

That means about 3.1% of the total pool of unmarried adults are highly eligible single Americans.

Good luck finding each other.

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