Less than 3% of Americans are worth dating

Happy Valentine’s Day.

If you’re in a relationship, stop right here.

If you’re not, you’re single.

That’s completely fine — around half the population of US adults are. But you should know it’s highly unlikely you’re worth dating.

In fact, according to our calculations only about 2.7% of American adults are “worth dating.”

Before you get up in arms about how it’s totally fine that you’re still wearing cargo pants in your 30s, or how every man who dates you has to really like all your sorority sisters (because they are your BFFs for life), allow us to explain what makes someone “worth dating.”

Or as some like to say, “eligible.”

To assess how many eligible singles live in the country, we turned to the Minnesota Population Center’s 2014 American Community Survey IPUMS (ACS). It’s an ongoing project by the Census Bureau that asks roughly 1% of all Americans every year — about 3 million people — several questions about their social, demographic, economic, and housing situations.

There’s tons of great information in there, but we took only the most relevant tidbits to define eligibility

  • They’re actually single: We removed anyone who is currently married, or living with a non-married romantic partner. Unfortunately, the ACS doesn’t ask whether respondents are in a relationship with someone they don’t live with, so some people with partners might have slipped in.
  • They’re between the ages of 18 and 40.
  • They don’t live with their parents: The ACS includes information on family relationships within a household. Anyone who boomeranged and had a mother or father within the same household was excluded. Of course, we do run the risk here of excluding nice people who are taking care of elderly parents, but you can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs.
  • They have at least a college education: The ACS includes data on educational attainment. We included anyone with a Bachelor’s, a Master’s, a doctoral degree, or a post-graduate professional degree like a law or medical degree.
  • They don’t live in group quarters, like a college dorm or a military barracks.
  • They have a job.

See, we’re not really setting the bar that high.

Based on our analysis of the ACS IPUMS data, about 6.7 million Americans satisfied all six of the above criteria, and therefore count as highly eligible by our demanding measures. Given that, according to our analysis, there were about 245 million Americans over the age of 18 in 2014, only about 2.7% of American adults are highly eligible singles.

Good luck out there.

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