Behind the Marriage Making Statistics of Dating Sites

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The Wall Street Journal in an article called "Marriage-Maker Claims Are Tied in Knots" attempts to find out if some of the statistics are true, in regards to the number of marriages a dating site claims to have generated. eHarmony is targeted because of their claim that 236 members get married everyday (see Story). I believe this works out to 2% of the total number of Americans who got married last year met through the site. Match.com is also mentioned due to stats they released recently (and then pulled) that says 12 couples got married or engaged everyday on their dating site (see Story).

The author, Carl, in a way defends the dating sites published stats when he says that:

One obstacle to further research is that newlyweds are hard for researchers to find. So online-dating companies looking to tout their success as matchmaking yentas have sought novel ways to enumerate marriages.

Less than 2 percent of Americans get married every year. To perform a survey and to get an accurate sample size 1.76 million phone calls would need to be made says Dr. Gonzaga of eHarmony. That would be a costly endeavor, so dating sites are forced to find creative ways to come up with some marriage numbers. The closest thing to an election-quality poll Carl could find was a Pew Internet & American Life Project survey, which in 2005 reported from a poll of 3,215 adults, that 3 million Americans found a long term relationship (not necessarily marriages) through a dating site.

Match.com took a number of different approaches throughout the years to track the number of marriages they were responsible for. Up to 2002 the dating site had a total of 1,100 marriages in which they were responsible for, all directly reported by their members. Between 2003 and 2007 Match.com used a 2005 poll from the Wedding Channel which found that they were credited with more marriages than any other dating site. In June, Match released the stat which stated, on average 12 couples get married or engaged everyday who met on Match.com. No information was released about how this statistic was calculated.

eHarmony's marriage statistics are on more solid ground as they have used an independent company, Harris Interactive, twice to figure out how many marriage the dating service is responsible for. Instead of calling to find newlyweds, Harris used an online panel to find respondents. In attempt to reduce bias, (since it is an online survey and logically people who are online more, are more likely to use websites) a propensity score is assigned to each respondent. This is used to under value the persons response based on how much time they spend online. eHarmony reports that it took the conservative number of 236 members in the study and ruled out all marriages by people over the age of 54. The dating site also received 5,000 testimonials from members who reported being married during the last Harris Interactive study in 2007. To match up with the statistic of 236 members get married everyday, this would mean than 1 in 8 members shared their story of being married. eHarmony does plan to update the Harris Interactive marriage study later this year.

Related Story: Researchers Skeptical of Claims From Dating Sites

For the full story, read The Wall Street Journal. Read our Match.com review and eHarmony review to find out more about these dating sites.