Online Dating in Thin Markets

A recent podcast, “What You Don’t Know About Online Dating,” discussed how online dating has changed the process of finding a mate in traditionally “thin” markets.  Writing for FP, Bethany Allen explores the role of dating sites catering to young Chinese Muslims:

The men’s photos show them clean-shaven, wearing T-shirts or sweaters, while the women are mostly without headscarves, some showing off their bare shoulders. In other words, they appear heavily Sinicized. That’s because the site caters to Hui Muslims, many of whom are virtually indistinguishable in speech and dress from millions of ordinary young men and women in urban China.

That doesn’t mean they aren’t different: Many Hui still seek to marry within their ranks, despite the fact that they are widely dispersed across China, numbering only 10 million out of a population of 1.3 billion. But the Internet is coming to the rescue, as online Hui dating sites have arisen over the past few years to help some of China’s urban Muslims find their matches. “The Internet links major Hui communities in every city,” said Haiyun Ma, a professor at Frostburg State University in Maryland specializing in Muslims in China and a Hui Chinese himself. As a result, “it is easier for young Hui to find spouses” than it used to be.


My girlfriend is a Hui Chinese (luckily she is open to look beyond her ranks), and as far as I know most of them don't really practice (not that different from casual Christians). It's very rare for young women to be covered and few goes to mosque. Many do keep a Halal diet though that seems to be more culture than religions at this point.

So I'm not surprised that a Hui dating site would look pretty much like any other dating site.

Shane L

Well this is a great benefit of the internet, and not just for dating and relationships. Very small numbers of people in a given region might have a passion for a particular interest. In their locality they are too few and too scattered to meet, but the internet allows them to build an online community. Of course this can lead to political extremists radicalising as they encounter others with similar or harder beliefs, but there are a lot of good and enjoyable sides to the phenomenon too. You might even consider Freakonomics blog-readers as a kind of crude community; not all my friends in the real world are that fascinated by the "hidden side of everything" :)