The college experience is profoundly different from what comes before and after in life. It is when 19-year-olds have chance encounters in different settings that make it easy to befriend and evaluate others. And they have enough free time to follow relationships where they may lead. Few of us will ever again walk into a dining hall filled with 100 interesting members of the opposite sex of roughly the same age. Most of life is far more structured and far less diverse. Dates and bar encounters present only a dimly lit window into a person’s character. Workplace romances occur, but they create challenges on the job and can produce marriages that are short on industrial or occupational diversification. Optimal portfolio theory, applied to marital choice, suggests that better diversification can push households closer to the risk-return frontier.But it appears that broadband has improved search in more rural marriage markets. From the paper The Impact of Internet Diffusion on Marriage Rates: Evidence from the Broadband Market:
The Internet has the potential to reduce search frictions by allowing individuals to identify faster a larger set of available options that conform to their preferences. One market that stands to benefit from this process is that of marriage. This paper empirically examines the implications of Internet diffusion in the United States since the 1990s on one aspect of this market: marriage rates. Exploring sharp temporal and geographic variation in the pattern of consumer broadband adoption, I find that the latter has significantly contributed to increased marriages rates among 21-30 year olds. A number of tests suggest that this relationship is causal and that it varies across demographic groups potentially facing thinner marriage markets. I also provide some suggestive evidence that Internet has likely crowded out other traditional meeting venues, such as through family and friends.