“I’m not saying your entire life should be guided by gender ratios.” Tens of thousands of Ultra-Orthodox Jews from the Belz Hassidic dynasty attend the wedding ceremony of Rabbi Shalom Rokach, the grandson of the Belz Rabbi, to Hana Batya Pener on May 22, 2013.(Photo credit: Yaakov Naumi/Flash90) As it pertains to the Hassidic and Yeshiva Jewish communities, the uneven gender ratio stems from what Birger calls a “demographic quirk.” In his chapter “Mormons and Jews,” Birger explains that high birthrates in this segment of the Jewish population means there are “more 18-year-olds than 19-year-olds, more 19-year-olds than 20-year-olds, and so on and so on.” This results in a marriage market where 19-year-old women outnumber 22-year-old men; the average ages at which women and men in the community marry.According to a 2013 piece from Jewish weekly Ami Magazine, which Birger cited in a recent Time article based on his book, there were about 3,000 unmarried ultra-Orthodox women between the ages of 25 and 40 in the New York metropolitan area.
For example, many young people in both the Hassidic and Yeshiva communities feel enormous pressure to marry young because they aren’t considered part of the community until they are married, he said.
This sense of pressure has led to an increase in couples who marry young only to divorce after only a couple of years, as well as an increase in the number of broken engagements.
Many young Yeshiva and Hassidic people don’t take the time to understand themselves before plunging into a relationship.
A recent article in Haaretz, “The Dating Shame: Orthodox Obsession with Externals Has Reached Epidemic Proportions,” echoed this.
In it Avital Chizhik-Goldschmidt writes of the enormous stress young Orthodox women face and the lengths they go to so they can find a match, including undergoing plastic surgery.
“The pressure on these young women is unbearable – I look at their smiling kind faces, pictures taken at cousins’ weddings and at summer camps hugging special needs children, and wonder how it must have been for them to not concern themselves with their own ‘outsideness’ until the moment they came back from seminary and became Shidduch-debutante,” according to Chizhik-Goldschmidt’s article.
Birger said he thinks there is a solution to the Shidduch Crisis.
A financial and tech journalist whose work has appeared in Money, Time, and Barron’s, Birger relies on a combination of demographics, statistics, game theory, and sociology to make his case that the shortage of college-educated men has led to a dating crisis.
In fact, there’s a man drought, according to Jon Birger’s new book “Date-Onomics: How Dating Became a Lopsided Numbers Game.” “Call it the man deficit,” said Birger, adding that it isn’t just a big city problem: There are four women for every three men across the US.
This deficit lies at the heart of the Orthodox Jewish community’s “Shidduch Crisis,” according to “Date-Onomics.” It also helps explain the college and post-college hookup culture as well as the decline in marriage rates, Birger said.
But make no mistake, “Date-Onomics” isn’t a dating book per se, rather “it’s a by the numbers, wonkish take on dating,” Birger said.