Finding affection can be just a question of looking in the right places
There are plenty of single women and men, but often not in the same town
There is a bunch of boffins holed up in the Australian Bureau of Statistics offices in Canberra who slave away to capture and curate the best of the 2016 census. And for very good reason. This data serves as an important basis to the allocation of government funding and private sector investment.
Every so often a demographic disrupter comes along and reconfigures the data for naught but the rank amusement of the Australian people. This is one of those moments. Census boffins are advised to look away now.
I am going to tell you something that you probably already intrinsically know: finding affection is a numbers game. When everything else is stripped away, the demand driver for affection is a function of the number of single men and the number of single women in more or less the same age brackets. Interestingly, I think this principle applies equally to straight and gay couples. We are a broad church here in Australia going into Valentine’s Day, when we celebrate all loving unions.
So the situation is that you are single and you are looking for love. Not an uncommon situation, apparently. Where on the continent are the best odds of finding a partner? It turns out with the census that the target market can be filtered from the general population. All you need to do is extract from the over-20 population the number that is single, separated, widowed, never married or divorced. The resultant figure is good to know but it doesn’t answer the question of where the odds of finding affection might be the best. What we really need is the ratio of single people in one gender relative to the number in the other gender in all parts of Australia.
I mean, knowing there’s 100 single men aged 25-29 in a mining town isn’t much good if that town has, say, 150 single women in the same age group. It leads to too much competition for the available male product. And men get to thinking they’re more attractive than they really are: this condition, known as hotness delusion syndrome, flourishes where there is a surplus of women.
The question then becomes, what is the ratio of single men per 100 single women in five-year age brackets from 20-24 to 100-plus in every town? What you are left with is an atlas of Australia’s Tinder towns.
Let’s start with the 20-24 age group. My filtering shows that in the West Australian wheatbelt town of Merredin (population 2600) there are 134 single men aged 20-24 and only 34 single women in the same age group. These numbers convert to a ratio of 394 single men per 100 single women. Merredin has a four-toone surplus of single men. It’s raining men in Merredin. Young men, single men … available men. Hurry, this offer can’t last.
The odds of a young single female finding a young single male are pretty good in Merredin. There’s no man drought. There is a man dam. Although I have been told of other places where the odds might be good but the goods are odd. Now I would never verbalise such a judgment but I feel I must report it for your information. It’s my pleasure. Unfortunately for the young single men of Merredin, the nation’s hotspot of young single women isn’t even close to the west’s wheatbelt. In fact, the census shows that a northern suburb of Wagga Wagga called Estella (population 3500) has 210 single women in this age group and just 112 single men, delivering a ratio of 53 single men per 100 single women. Estella is ground zero in the Australian man drought.
You do realise that Merredin men are right now firing up their utes, splashing on the Brut and heading across the Nullarbor to Wagga Wagga. I want to see a banner stretched across Baylis Street by Monday morning that reads: “Wagga Wagga welcomes Merredin Men”.
The reason for the gender clustering is simple: young Merredin women head to Perth, leaving the boys behind. And Estella is located close to Charles Sturt University and so is uni-student skewed.
This process of filtering single men and women and then scanning the continent for the best odds in each age group can be repeated. And, in fact, this process has been repeated for all five-year cohorts from 20-24 to 100-andover in the map. Select your target market and the corresponding town where the odds of finding a partner are best.
Let’s jump forward to the 30-34 age bracket where the odds of finding a partner range from 47 single males per 100 single females in Tasmania’s Wynyard to 210 single males per 100 single females in the farming community of Harvey, south of Perth. Actually, Harvey is located close to an alumina smelter and coalfields that attract male workers. This isn’t looking good. The hot spots for single men and single women in each age group are at opposite sides of the continent.
Take the 40-44 cohort, for example: single women cluster in Yarrabilba near the Gold Coast whereas single men congregate 4000km west in Port Hedland.
What chance does love have to blossom when our singles are so cruelly separated by this wide brown land? But there are glimmers of hope. Single women aged 35-39 seem to like Nairne in the Adelaide Hills. And single men in this age bracket are located in Naracoorte, just 180km to the east. Nairne has 45 single women in this age group and just 20 single men. In Naracoorte the odds are 64 single men and 36 single women.
Are you thinking what I’m thinking? How about we set up an electrifying, frisson-filled Naracoorte-Nairne social day that would surely solve this singles problem in a heartbeat. It’s all a matter of aligning the numbers and then stepping back and letting love do the rest. I do so like bringing people together.
Later in life the odds of finding a partner isn’t a matter of using the census to divine a surplus of singles by gender, it’s a matter of life expectancy. There are many areas where men have the upper hand over women. Life expectancy isn’t one of them. In the 90-94 age group women outnumber men five to one in Albury. The best ratio of single men to women in this category is an equal number of men and women in Sussex Inlet.
The grand sweep of Tinder towns that I have identified across the Australian continent shows the diversity of our nation. On the one hand it’s kind of fun to know there’s lots of single men in the mining communities of Port Hedland and Roxby Downs and in farmer towns like Naracoorte and Merredin. But it also hints at some of the social problems associated with the way we live today.
Young women gravitate to the city and to lifestyle towns, leaving behind, and creating wherever they go, gender imbalances. Single women, for example, outnumber single men in places like Alstonville near Byron Bay, in Bellingen near Coffs Harbour and in Maleny north of Brisbane.
In places like Wynyard and Longford in Tasmania, I suspect there’s been an outflow of men, perhaps to Hobart or to the mainland in search of work.
It probably doesn’t matter that there’s a gender imbalance in some parts of our nation. Where there’s a will there’s a way, as they say. I don’t think that the procreation of the Australian race is at stake. But the Tinder town map does remind us of the sheer scale of the social challenges we face in farming and mining in remote areas. We live in a complicated land. I like the Tinder town map because it gently reminds those of us living in capital cities of the richness of life in the romantic rural and remote parts of our country.