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According to research by Michael Rosenfeld from Stanford University and Reuben Thomas from City College of New York, in the early 1990s, less than 1 percent of the population met partners through printed personal advertisements or other commercial intermediaries.
By 2005, among single adults Americans who were Internet users and currently seeking a romantic partner, 37 percent had dated online.
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Online dating has not only shed its stigma, it has surpassed all forms of matchmaking in the United States other than meeting through friends, according to a new analysis of research on the burgeoning relationship industry.
The 64-page analysis reviews more than 400 psychology studies and public interest surveys, painting a full and fascinating picture of an industry that, according to one industry estimate, attracted 25 million unique users around the world in April 2011 alone.
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"Online dating is definitely a new and much needed twist on relationships," says Harry Reis, one of the five co-authors of the study and professor of psychology at the University of Rochester.
Behavioral economics has shown that the dating market for singles in Western society is grossly inefficient, especially once individuals exit high school or college, he explains.
According to research by Michael Rosenfeld, a professor of sociology at Stanford University, in 2007-2009, 22 percent of heterosexual couples and 61 percent of same-sex couples had found their partners through the Web.
Those percentages are likely even larger today, the authors write. Through the 1980s and into the 1990s, a stigma was associated with personal advertisements that initially extended to online dating.