How the Stanford Marriage Pact spread to more than 60 campuses in a year – The Stanford Daily

The Marriage Pact has brought together more than 200,000 students nationwide since its origin in 2017 as a final project for a Stanford economics class. By collecting survey responses and applying the deferred-acceptance algorithm, this online service seeks to pinpoint, optimize and match the most compatible individuals for friendships and romantic relationships.

Today, the Marriage Pact has been launched at over 60 college campuses. Most of these sanctioned spin-offs started in the past year.

Within a week of Marriage Pact’s arrival to Duke University in January, for example, 4,500 students signed up — roughly two-thirds of the undergraduate population and 30% of students overall. Shortly thereafter, one student’s TikTok post about the survey received roughly 100,000 likes.

“I think most people sign up for the very fact that their friends are doing it,” said Liam McGregor ’20, co-founder of the Marriage Pact. He and co-founder Sophia Angus-Sterling ’19, who met early on in their time at Stanford and had continually developed a working relationship, began the project with a question about matching algorithms: “What if we didn’t give you the best, we just gave you the backup?”

To some, the Marriage Pact may be a new way to discover meaningful connections with members of the community; to others, it may be the next installment in a series of existing outlets for satisfying carnal desire. In other cases, it is viewed as an insurance policy against marital disaster.

“It’s been amazing to see what this experience does for different people,” McGregor said. After leaving his data science job at Microsoft last year, he has taken on a full-time executive role at the Marriage Pact. Angus-Sterling is actively a senior business analyst at McKinsey & Company.

Professor Paul Milgrom M.S. ’78 Ph.D. ’79, who taught ECON 136: “Market Design” to McGregor and Angus-Sterling in 2017, said in an email statement that it was “totally amazing” to see the Marriage Pact come to life, adding that “Liam has a great chance of making the Marriage Pact into a business.”

This fall, 5,345 Stanford students once again participated in the Marriage Pact survey online, expressing various levels of agreement to statements like “I would keep a gun in the house” and “Gender roles exist for good reasons” in search of their companion. Roughly 3 to 4% of Marriage Pact survey respondents go on to date for a year or longer, which McGregor called “hitting the lottery.” Only 1 to 2% of matches on traditional dating apps end up meeting each other at all, he added.

The majority of heterosexual couples in the U.S. meet online nowadays, according to research data from sociology professor Michael Rosenfeld. As fewer Americans meet through third-person mediation, roles that families, neighborhoods and houses of worship traditionally would play are falling to the wayside — a trend whose inflection traces back to World War II. Friend-based mediation has also been on the decline, starting in 1995, as have overall American marriage rates.

The Marriage Pact is a “clever innovation,” Rosenfeld wrote to The Daily. However, he also said that it is important not to attribute too much significance to the “magic of the matching algorithm.”



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Peter Andre discusses his children online dating in the future

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