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How the economy shapes our love lives

Dating has been around for more than a century and it’s always been tied to the economy.

The way single Americans pair up has changed a lot over the years. You may think these ups and downs of dating would be influenced by love and affection but it’s actually tied to something far less romantic: the economy.

In the late-1800s the predominant mode of courtship was “calling,” a practice where a woman would receive potential suitors at her house and spend time together under the supervision of a family member. Super exciting, I know. Marriage was a practical and economic arrangement where the main priority was property and strategically aligning yourself with other families. Compatibility and mutual affection weren’t a priority.

This all changed during the industrial revolution. Young people fled farms and small towns to live in big cities and work in factories, restaurants, and bars. They lived away from the prying eyes of their parents for the first time and found themselves surrounded by other single young people. This set the stage for what we now consider “dating.”

Ever since then the way single people have gotten together has been dictated by the ups and downs of the economy in the United States. We talk to Harvard’s Moira Weigel, author of “The Labor of Love: The Invention of Dating” about how our woes about dating are nothing new, they’ve been around since people starting pairing off.

Watch the video above to see how the way we date has continued to follow trends in the economy decade by decade. You can find this video and all of Vox’s videos on YouTube.

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