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Shidduch is the Hebrew word for a marriage match, and Orthodox Jews (including the more assimilated Modern Orthodox) now refer to the excess supply of unmarried women in their communities as the Shidduch Crisis. Or maybe it’s the women who are holding out for the Mormon or Jewish George Clooney?

Mormon and Orthodox Jewish leaders alike fear that their respective marriage crises reflect some failure to instill proper values in young people. In fact, the root causes of both the Shidduch Crisis and the Mormon marriage crisis have little to do with culture or religion. The fact is that there are more marriage-age women than men both in the Orthodox Jewish community and in the Utah LDS church.

Heterosexual men are more likely to play the field, and heterosexual women must compete for men’s attention.

Of course, tales of scarce men and sexual permissiveness in ancient Sparta won’t convince everyone, so I began to explore the demographics of modern religion.

“There might actually be a more promiscuous dating culture than there otherwise would be in the Mormon culture because of this gap.” Months later, still neck-deep in Mormon research, I got lucky again.

I received an email from a hedge fund manager who wanted to talk to me about a job.

On a lark, I emailed my friend Cynthia Bowman,* a devout Mormon who grew up in Salt Lake City and returns there often, and asked her whether Mormon sex ratios are as lopsided as the ARIS study claimed.

[Editor’s note: “Cynthia Bowman” is a pseudonym, as are other names denoted with an asterisk.

Both of these socially conservative communities are suffering from marriage crises that are testing not only their faiths but social norms as well. That’s the one thing that always came up when I’d discuss theories on declining marriage rates or the rise of the hookup culture with my friends or family. In reality, these values have ebbed and flowed throughout history, often in conjunction with prevailing sex ratios. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, there are 5.5 million college-educated women in the U. between the ages of 22 and 29 versus 4.1 million such men. Among college grads age 30 to 39, there are 7.4 million women versus 6.0 million men—five women for every four men. Times have changed, and that is a good thing—especially the fading-away of cruel taboos that once stigmatized women who engaged in premarital sex or bore children out of wedlock. The values question assumes that sexual mores loosen naturally from conservative to liberal.Some biographical details have been altered to hide their identities.] Yes, she told me, the ratios are lopsided. “They wait for the next, more perfect woman,” grumbled Bowman, a veterinarian in San Diego.Premarital sex remains taboo for Mormons, but the shortage of Mormon men was pushing some women over the brink.

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