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"All the Single Ladies …" ♪♪

I recently presented some data at a conference for companies that run online dating services. As part of that presentation I did some analysis on facebook users, and their maritial status. Below is a summary of some of that work.

Facebook is pretty big

Over 130 million people in the USA now have a facebook account. That's over 40% of every man, woman and child who lives there.

Each user of facebook can (optionally) specify their gender, relationship status, and other personal information.

For example, my friend on the right is currently In a Relationship.

First of all, I was curious what percentage of people disclosed their relationship status.

A little bit of data-mining later I discovered that, in the USA, 62.9% of people complete this information on their profiles.

Each country is different in its level of exposure. For instance, in Turkey only 41.6% of facebook users specify their relationship status.

Tell me more

With a little more analysis, we can drill down into the 'specified' category and find out the breakdown of relationship status. Facebook provides a quantized set of options to choose from: Married, Single, Engaged or In Relationship.

The pie chart to the right shows the distribution of these in the US.

We can see that 20.9% of US facebook users are Single; ripe candidates for an online dating service!

What are these people interested in?

Facebook allows users to specify what that are Interested In as well as their gender. In the US, 35% of users complete this optional selection.

(When I collected the data, I neglected to record the Relationship Status specified for the people who exposed their Interest. It would be an interesting exercise to go back and find this out. Do more Single people expose their Interest more than married people? Are people In a relationship more likely to specify this than Married or Single people?)

Again, the level of information exposure varies considerably by location. In Turkey, just 21% of facebook account holders expose their Interest.

Here is the breakdown of interests for the US:

Sex … Interested in Men  … Interested in Women 
I am Man …2.23%97.77%
I am Woman …91.04%8.96%

Don't get too carried away with the 8.96% Women interested in Women number! I'm not suggesting that women in the US are less heterosexual than men. If you examine the facebook profile page you can see that people are on facebook Looking For other things than just dating, such as: Friendship and Networking. People use facebook for more than just hooking up!

This is very apparent when you pull the same matrix for Turkey:

Sex … Interested in Men  … Interested in Women 
I am Man …6.49%93.51%
I am Woman …29.66%70.34%

The vast majority of female facebook users in Turkey (who specify their interests), are looking to connect with other women! (70.34% cf. 8.96% in the US). Facebook in Turkey, for women, seems a very important tool to network and find similar gender friends.

(The curious amongst you might be questioning why I have been using Turkey as my non-US country for comparisons. The simple reason is because the people of Turkey are huge consumers of facebook. After The United States which currently dominates facebook as the modal country of registrations with 130 million accounts (just over 25% of all facebook registrations), next comes Indonesia, followed by The United Kingdom, and then comes Turkey.)

Below is a table of the top ten countries (ordered by registrations) on facebook.

1 UNITED STATES 57,742,980 72,559,980 130,302,960
2 INDONESIA 16,200,160 11,016,320 27,216,480
3 UNITED KINGDOM 13,005,320 13,944,760 26,950,080
4 TURKEY 14,432,520 8,054,980 22,487,500
5 FRANCE 9,148,020 9,847,740 18,995,760
6 ITALY 9,005,780 7,736,820 16,742,600
7 PHILIPPINES 7,675,420 8,466,480 16,141,900
8 CANADA 7,126,580 8,343,060 15,469,640
9 MEXICO 7,306,080 7,436,480 14,742,560
10 INDIA 9,082,660 3,914,100 12,996,760

If you notice, there are significantly more male vs. female registrations in India and Turkey. Contrast this with the the US, for instance, which is female biased ... this will be a topic of a future blog post ...

Demographic Breakdown - Who are the Single people?

As you can imagine, the amount of single people varies considerably with age, and also by gender. Below is a chart showing the breakout of US facebook users by gender, age and the percentage that are Single. The pink line shows female accounts, and the blue line shows male accounts.

The vertical axis shows the percentage of accounts for that gender and age are marked as Single in the relationship status field, and the horizontal access shows age from 13 years of age on the left, to 65 and above on the right.

[ For COPPA compliance reasons, there are no facebook accounts under 13 on facebook - I'll talk about this in a future posting. ]

Whilst the average number of Single users of facebook is 20.9%, the percentage varies considerably between 45% for 17 year old boys, to 6% for 65 year old men.

As you can see, up until the mid-forties, there is always a higher percentage of Single men on facebook, than Single women. (Other than the 13 and 14 year old girls who, it seems, like to share that they are not yet in a relationhip).

Absolute Size

We have to be careful not to fall into the trap of relative rather than absolute numbers. Whilst we know the percentage of 40 year olds that are single, we don't yet know how many 40 year olds have facebook accounts. Similary, whilst we know that a higher percentage of young males on facebook are single (than female), our data above showed that there are more female US accounts on facebook than male, so to get the true figure of absoloute population of single people we need a breakdown of registrations by gender and age. Here is this data:

As we can see, accross the entire age range in the USA, there are more female registered accounts than male.

It's no big surprise to see the large modal spike in registrations around the late-teens to early twenties. Facebook's roots lie in college life.

It is, however, staggering to see the number of Aged 65 and above accounts appearing on facebook; It's the fastest growing demographic on facebook at the current time. Close to one in eight new accounts created on facebook in the US is from someone over 65 years old! Go Grandparents!

Now to multiply

Now that we have the absoloute numbers of registered accounts for each demographic, and the percentage of those that are single, it's a case of simple multiplication to divine the number of single men on facebook vs. the number of single women on facebook for each age bracket.

As a final step, for every age, I've subtracted the number of single females from the number of single males to show which age brackets have an surplus of males, and which have a deficit. Here are the results:

Bars above the line show ages where there is a surfeit of single males, and bars below the line show where there are more single females than males.


It's a pretty coarse assumption that people only date people of similar age to themselves, but if we run with this, then if I were running a facebook dating service in the USA, then you can be sure that if were wanting to attract men to subscribe, then I'd be advertising and marketing to target men in their early twenties, as this is the region with the highest number of un-tapped single males.

Conversely, if I were trying to attract women to subscribe to a dating service, then the most fertile demographic is the early fifties.


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