Stanford Marriage Pact releases report on aggregated data

Feb. 6, 2019, 1:10 a.m.

The Stanford Marriage Pact’s survey of over 4,600 students found that nearly two-thirds of respondents are Democrats and just under half are atheist or agnostic, according to a report released by creators Liam McGregor ’20 and Sophia Sterling-Angus ’19 on Tuesday. The report analyzed responses from the most recent iteration of the matching algorithm that pairs students based on their criteria for an ideal spouse.

The report displayed data about students’ political and religious affiliations as well as alignment on a number of statements geared toward gauging what matters to them in a relationship.

Asked about their political identity, 63.1 percent of respondents identified as Democrats. Meanwhile, 19.5 percent of students identified as Independent, 7.1 percent as Republican, 2.9 percent as Libertarian and 0.7 percent as Communist.

On religious affiliation, the survey found that 42.9 percent of students identify as agnostic or atheist. Of those who identified with a religious background, Mormons, Christians and Muslims— in total comprising 17.4 percent of respondents— were most likely to strongly agree that it is important that their kids be raised religious.  

The report also displayed data on students’ sexual orientations, broken down by gender. Most notably, 10.2 percent of men identify as homosexual, compared to only 2.4 percent of women. This statistic is nearly flipped for bisexual students, with 10.3 of women and 2.5 percent of men identifying as bisexual.

On the topic of children, the report showed that 49.8 percent of respondents said they wanted two children, averaging the anticipated births per Stanford woman to 2.35.

When asked to rank how much they valued specific statements, Stanford students ranked “Emotional vulnerability is an important part of my friendships” highest, followed by “I initiate difficult conversations in my relationships, even if they make me uncomfortable.”

The report also compared responses from men and women on various questions. On average, male respondents prefer politically incorrect humor more strongly than female respondents. Though both male and female students felt generally neutral about their intelligence relative to the average Stanford student, male respondents were slightly more likely than the average female student to identify as smarter than most. Men were also more likely to be disappointed if their partner gained weight. While both men and women disagreed with the statement that gender roles exist for a good reason, women disagreed more strongly.

The report also tracked alignment with various subjective statements by class year, showing that older respondents tend to feel more neutral than younger students about the importance of social activism, and slightly more aligned with the statement that they are smarter than most people at Stanford. Older students were also slightly more comfortable with their partner drinking, smoking and doing drugs than younger respondents.

McGregor and Sterling-Angus employed machine learning techniques to suggest which survey questions were the most indicative of similarity between respondents. Agreement on statements like “gender roles exist for a good reason” and “it’s okay that my partner does softer drugs” were shown to be the most powerful features for these models, suggesting their higher salience in determining compatibility.

The report also references Stanford Marriage Pact’s data privacy policy, which states that the collected data is never sold. Furthermore, the founders claim to never share data in a way that allows participants to be individually identified.

The Stanford Marriage Pact is now in its second year, initially created in fall 2017 as a project for McGregor and Sterling-Angus’ “Market Design” economics class. In its second year, the Pact saw a 500 response increase alongside a revamped algorithm and questionnaire.

McGregor and Sterling-Angus publicized an application, due Feb. 12, to join their team of designers and developers.

“We‘re asking more interesting questions and we’re solving more interesting problems than at any point before now — and we’re looking forward to growing our team for some exciting new projects,” McGregor said.


Contact Julia Ingram at jmingram ‘at’ and Nik Marda at nmarda ‘at’

Julia Ingram ’21 was The Daily's Volume 256 editor-in-chief. She is a New York City native majoring in English literature and working toward a career in news reporting. Contact her at jingram ‘at’

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