Community leaders, rabbis, and shadchanim have been working to find a solution to the shidduch dilemma for years.
A ground-breaking new study could offer critical information and data that illuminate the full scope of the situation and helps us decide whether to shift our attention away from the answers we’ve been pursuing.
The information may also refute some of our assumptions based on personal experience and impressions.
Dr. Yosef Sokol, a researcher and professor at Touro University’s School of Health Sciences released the study this month in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion (JSSR).
According to data from Dr. Sokol’s team, most “Yeshiva Orthodox” girls marry.
This is a shocking discovery if it is true.
Many people think that the dating pool contains more girls than boys because of the annual rise in population and the habit of older boys dating younger ladies.
If that assumption is true, the only real remedy is to encourage boys to date and marry ladies who are either their age or very close to it.
However, it would seem from Dr. Sokol’s analysis that roughly equal numbers of guys and girls are in the dating pool.
If true, the dilemma should probably be resolved by finding out why certain boys and girls take a long time to get married and attacking the issue from that perspective to help ladies locate (and marry) their future spouses sooner than they now are.
Nearly 9,000 members of the Yeshiva Orthodox (YO) and Modern Orthodox (MO) communities in North America were interviewed by Dr. Sokol.
Several of the major conclusions dispelled widespread misconceptions regarding the alleged shidduch issue.
One is that singlehood is less common than one might anticipate in Orthodox societies.
According to the report, 92% of men and women in Yeshiva Orthodox communities were married by 30.
By the age of 40, that percentage was around 98%.
The rates were slightly lower in Modern Orthodox communities, where 81% of men and women were married by age 30.
Less than 90% were married by the age of 40.
Another common misconception is that men and women marry at significantly different rates.
Not so, according to the study. Approximately 88% of men and 92% of women are married by 28 in Yeshiva Orthodox communities.
“These numbers don’t appear to fit what many people think is happening,” said Dr. Sokol. Depending on your perspective, they may or may not be considered a crisis.
Dr. Sokol’s goal in conducting the study was to reduce some of the anxiety singles experience as they age and wait to find the ideal partner.
People panic when they see a shidduch crisis, he said and may choose or pressure their children to choose someone who may not be in their best interests.
“Of course, the community should support singles and their families and continue to be considerate of those who are still searching for their bashert, but I hope my research can offer more accurate information about our marriage system, aid in easing some of the widespread anxiety and help singles, community members, and leaders make more informed decisions.
I think our community needs more data-based strategies to find the programs and solutions most likely to be helpful.
Dr. Yosef Sokol, Dr. Naomi Rosenbach, Dr. Yitzchak Schechter, Chayim Rosensweig, Chynna Levin, and Shifra Hubner made up the research team.