EA Relationship Status

Link post

A friend ob­served that fewer peo­ple in the effec­tive al­tru­ism move­ment are mar­ried than you might ex­pect. I was cu­ri­ous: what are mar­riage rates like within the EA com­mu­nity? The 2018 EA Sur­vey asked about re­la­tion­ship sta­tus, and we can look at how that varies by age:

I’m us­ing “ever mar­ried” for peo­ple who are cur­rently mar­ried or have ever been mar­ried, in­clud­ing peo­ple who are now di­vorced, widowed, or sep­a­rated. Since some of these buck­ets might be pretty small, let’s add sam­ple size in­for­ma­tion:

The anonymized sur­vey data doesn’t have 35-44 data, and the 65+ group looks sus­pi­ciously like it has the 35-44 group lumped in with it. I’ve filed a bug and if they fix it I’ll up­date the post. For now, prob­a­bly ig­nore the 65+ group.

For com­par­i­son, here’s 2018 ACS data (via) for US mar­riage rates, on the same scale:

And, at least in the US, peo­ple with more ed­u­ca­tion are more likely to be mar­ried, af­ter age 28:

Now, EAs are not all Amer­i­can, and even then they’re differ­ent from Amer­i­cans as a whole in many ways other than be­ing in­ter­ested in effec­tive al­tru­ism. On the other hand, when I look at what frac­tion of my (Swarth­more) col­lege friends are mar­ried, a group similar to EAs in many ways, it’s not far from the graph for the US at large. (And it’s off in the pos­i­tive di­rec­tion). I see similar num­bers by school for peo­ple who were 30-34 in 2014.

There does seem to be some­thing real here. Some guesses as to why:

  • EAs of­ten highly pri­ori­tize their ca­reers.

  • EAs are gen­er­ally less in­ter­ested in hav­ing chil­dren.

  • EAs are of­ten poly.

  • EAs of­ten live in group houses.

  • EAs are more will­ing to be weird; less likely to do some­thing be­cause it is the stan­dard thing to do.

Other ideas?