Jul 13, 2017

What happens to women when men flood into town for six-figure fracking jobs? Mark Zuckerberg reports

Mark Zuckerberg's latest stop on his "Year of Travel Challenge" may have given the Facebook CEO fodder for a new dating app.


In a new Facebook post, he reports on the unexpected repercussions to the dating pool when a town gets flooded by men. In Williston, N.D., for example, where he visited in July, a sudden gender imbalance led to a whole new social dynamic.

According to Zuckerberg, the fracking boom there created quality jobs, which attracted tens of thousands of mostly male workers from all over the country. The men "come here because these are good jobs where people with a high school diploma can make $100,000 a year," he writes.

"This sudden influx of mostly men tripled the size of the town in just a few years," explains Zuckerberg. "When oil prices dropped, some of this industry left and so did many people.

"This has led to some unique community dynamics."

For example, the ratio of men to women in Williston is 10:1, he writes, and "that's actually lower than 30:1 at its peak."

That's a pretty good ratio for single women. And Facebook, it turns out, has played an interesting role, in helping them navigate some of the unexpected challenges.

"The women I met … had unique stories," writes Zuckerberg. "Some told me about finding out their boyfriends had families back home. (They thanked me that Facebook has made it harder for these men to live double lives.)

"Another woman told me she has never paid for a drink her whole life."

It's not the first time thinkers have explored the nexus between fracking towns and relationships. Researchers in the Economics Department at the University of Maryland, College Park, recently studied how fracking booms have affected number of marriages and babies born in relevant parts of Texas, Oklahoma, California and Pennsylvania.

In the past, in more conservative parts of the country like Appalachia, "infusions of steady jobs for men in the 1970s and 80s led to more marriages and then more children born in wedlock," according to a CNBC story on the study. This study found that things have changed. While the influx of men with jobs had a positive effect on the number of local births, there was no increase in marriage rates.

During his visit, Zuckerberg also reported another side effect of the high percentage of men in Williston. The women Zuckerberg met told him they mostly feel safe but that the male-heavy population has led to increased crime, he says. "It is well-documented across the world that societies with many more men than women have more crime."


by Leah Ginsberg