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Singapore Government Launches Matchmaking Course, Online Dating Site

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Singapore has a problem. Its citizens are waiting too long to get married, if they marry at all, meaning fewer people are having children, and the economy may soon suffer for it.

But we know the island nation's government has a hands-off philosophy, right?

In this case, central control is stepping in, preparing to sprinkle a little officially sanctioned love dust. In July, Singapore officials will launch a six-month class on matchmaking, managed by the Social Development Network, a sub-agency of the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports. The stated goal is to tap "an informal network of interested individuals to engender a pro-marriage culture and help bring singles together."

Doesn't that sound romantic?!

The move was based on more than a hunch, of course. A 2010 survey of Singapore's adults showed that half the respondents felt the best way to meet a partner was through friends. A further 10% of those questioned said they put their faith in "informal introductions" by family members.

"Anecdotally," say the authors of  the official "Real Love Works 2011" report, "We have also come across people who share the passion of helping their friends who are singles but they do not know how."

And so an official Yenta 101 course was born.

Each seminar will be conducted by a certified family counselor or social worker who will discuss "principles of privacy and confidentiality, relationship knowledge, facilitation and even event organization."

But in case the newly trained matchmakers don't get to work fast enough, the government  has other tools to lead stray singles up the Orwellian ladder to "Marriage Central."  The SDN has also set up an online dating site, for example. It's called LoveByte.

It may look like, or OK Cupid, but it's nothing so commercial. It's your local ministry and taxpayer dollars at work.
According to the LoveByte "About Us" page, the site is meant to work in conjunction with private dating sites.

Will the public-private model work to enhance romance and "inculcate" a new attitude among wealthy young adults? Can the government use "strategic thrusts" as more than a good pun? Marina Adshade, an economics professor in Halifax, Canada, is not optimistic.

Adshade, who teaches a course called "Economics of Sex and Love" at Dalhousie University,
says of the Singapore plan, "It must be comforting to know that state cares that you are alone. The problem is that in order for these programs to work the individuals themselves have to care that they are alone. The state has invested millions in a program with a goal to solve a co-ordination problem that very likely does not exist; it is founded on a faulty premise that if only people could find each other they will marry and have families."

Singapore's career-minded singles may just believe that it's better to have never loved than to have lost valuable time to the search.

(For more, see "Why the Government Doesn't Make a Good Wingman" via Big Think.)
POSITION:  No positions in stocks mentioned.