An analysis of gender ratios 1860-2005

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This page is an Analysis Of Gender Ratios In The USA 1860-2005. Through study of United States Census data, it has been found that due to modern healthcare and the technological advancement of warfare, young single males face a disadvantage in the dating market due to the current gender ratio, which has not been seen since the late 1800s and early 1900s.


Gender ratios play a huge importance in this modern era for dating. The lack of available romantic partners can heavily skew the importance of preferred traits in the desired gender. As is expected in supply-and-demand economics, a decreased supply of an available resource will dramatically increase the demand of the remaining stock. As monogamy and human companionship is more or less a perfectly inelastic demand curve, any subtle change in the supply can have major implications for the dating market. The purpose of this paper is to analyze how the gender ratio has changed throughout the history of United States. From this, I hope to infer information about how dating might change in the near and distant future.


The United States Census Bureau gathered the data used in this analysis for each decade since 1860. This data was compiled by,[1] and was entered into a chart in Microsoft Excel and broken down my succinct age levels that were representative of dating groups.

(Figure 1.)


Between the periods of 1860 and 2005, the gender ratio at birth and between the ages of 5-19 has remained relatively stable. In nature, the number of males born is slightly higher than the number of females born for the reason that males are slightly more susceptible to infant mortality and infectious diseases in the early part of their lives. Environmental factors such as war have also contributed to a naturalized gender ratio that favors males. The slight increase from approximately 102 to 105 males per 100 females since 1940 can be attributed to technological advancements in health care relating to child rearing and immunizations for deadly diseases.


Refer to the annotated version of figure 1 above. In the period between 1860 and 1870, clear patterns emerge for the gender ratios of the ages 20–44 population. The American Civil War lasted between 1861 and 1865, which was the cause of death of approximately 620,000 soldiers and an unknown amount of civilians.[2] This is reflected in the 1870 period for Ages 20–44, with a reduction of males compared with the number of females; there were 99.2 males for every 100 females. While disadvantageous for female selectivity, males had less competition for a mate.

The gender ratio recovered in the years after 1870 (the Spanish-American War resulted in less than 400 military casualties,[3] and thus played virtually no role in the gender ratio). It wasn't until 1920 that a significant decline in the number of males occurred. This decline continued until 1970, and was marked by a period of hostilities that contributed to the death of many young males (World War I, World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam War). It wasn't until 1980 that the gender ratio changed course with an uptick of available males. This uptick has continued to present day, where it is approaching the gender ratio at birth and at ages 5–19.

The gender ratio for ages 45–64 can be explained with the advancement of medicine. In the period of 1860–1920, there was a noticeable skew toward more males in the aforementioned age bracket. During this period, the death risk for childbirth for women in their 30s was particularly dangerous, and would have contributed to this skew.[4] As life expectancy continues to increase, the ages 45–64 gender ratio will continue to approach the gender ratio limit at birth.

Due to the rise of life expectancy, and the biologically inherit advantage that females have in longevity, a gender ratio in which there are more women for ages 65 and over is most pronounced in the modern era. Once again, as medicine advances, this ratio will become normalized.


During periods after military conflicts that cause the death of male soldiers, there is always a period of altered gender ratios that provides an advantage to remaining males. The technological advancements in warfare in the last thirty years have resulted in fewer lives being lost, especially when compared as a percentage to the current population of the United States. Also in the last thirty years, sexual freedom has increased, and many things once regarded as socially taboo have become more accepted. The majority of sexually available males desire females of childbearing age based on their perceived attractiveness. Thus the most desired female age group would be approximately 18–35. Females also tend to be attracted to males their own age, but are also more accepting of males of any age. While a male's attractiveness tends to decline in his 30s and 40s, his career or income can generally compensate, which a small but appreciable percentage of females are willing to accept. Accordingly, young females between the ages of 18-35 have the greatest demand, and thus the greatest amount of choice. Given the gender ratio of males to females in the 20-44-age range, the numbers indicate that some men are forced to remain single. Conversely, women older than 35 often have far fewer choices, as there tend to be more of them, and the age-equivalent male is more likely to date a younger female if his income allows. There are four major ways in combat this inequality:

  1. Restrict dating between age-equivalent males and females.
  2. Artificially reduce the amount of young men by engaging in warfare.
  3. Further reduce the cultural taboo associated with older women dating younger men.
  4. Eliminate laws involving polyandry.

Personal notes[edit]

I've tried to reduce and eliminate any personal opinion from my research paper (and I use research paper very loosely). Obviously in the conclusion, choice (a) is extremely Draconian. I personally don't believe that combating male dateless-ness is best achieved by limiting the available options for women. I think that a woman not able to date because there are far fewer men is just as bad as a man not able to date because there are far fewer women. Even if this option was tried, and every male and female paired off, there would still be approximately 3% of males that would be alone. Choice (b) is just stupid and not sustainable (but would work obviously). Only choice (c) would provide a culturally acceptable method that allows the current scenario to continue. Ideally, a young man could date an older woman, only to end up dating younger women when they themselves become older. Obviously though, if a young man meets a young woman, they would be free to pursue a relationship. Such a scenario would reduce the pressure on the dating market: young women could date whomever they want, while the surplus of horny young dudes could date the surplus of older (hopefully horny) older women. Seeing how what is perceived as attractive is mostly cultural, choice (c) would necessitate a change in attitude for future generations. Also, the situation in China due to the one-child law will be an excellent case study in terms of female selectivity. Due to the familial preference for males, a huge gender ratio skew toward more males has resulted.

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to ask. If you have anything that you think I missed, or any evidence or a critique of something I've assumed, I'd also like to hear it. Thank you.


  1. Population Distribution by Age, Race, Nativity, and Sex Ratio, 1860-2005.
  2. American Civil War. (2010, March 9). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 20:42, March 15, 2010.
  3. Spanish-American war (2010, March 14). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 20:50, March 15, 2010.
  4. Why Women Live Longer Than Men. Harvard Gazette, 1998, 10.01.

See also[edit]

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