Next time a single, 30-something woman complains there are fewer good men to date in The City anymore, give her some sympathy.
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Census data released this week reveal that the number of men age 30 to 34 living in San Francisco has declined by nearly 15 percent over the last decade, from 48,510 to 41,351. Women of that age group have also declined in population, but by less than 5 percent.
This change, as well as a host of less-dramatic changes among people of adjacent age ranges, has brought San Francisco slightly closer to having equal numbers of men and women. In 2000, there were 103.5 men for every 100 women. Ten years later, there were 102.9 men for the same 100 women.
Where that six-tenths of a man disappeared to, and why he and his young friends seem to be in exodus, are questions that have perplexed experts.
“My first reaction is that it’s really strange,” said San Francisco State University geography professor Max Kirkeberg.
Gabriel Metcalf, executive director of think tank San Francisco Planning and Urban Research — not normally lacking for thoughtful opinions — responded to the statistics by email: “Wow, that’s super interesting ... and, I have no idea why!” he wrote.
Nonetheless, theories abound. Many experts concluded that economics are likely to be responsible for the trend. In April 2000, San Francisco was still in the middle of the dot-com boom, which attracted many young men to The City in search of tech jobs. Ten years later, a recession may be keeping away the generation that followed.
“Especially if they’ve lost jobs or taken poorer jobs, they move to Vallejo or someplace else that’s more affordable; that’s my guess,” Kirkeberg said.
Why that would be more true for men than women could be that the recession “has been hitting harder in fields like construction,” typically male-dominated, he postulated.
He also speculated that The City may not be attracting the numbers of young gay men it once did, as it becomes less affordable; perhaps it’s a sign that other places are becoming more gay-friendly, so there is less motivation to move to The City.
Chris Carrington, an associate professor of sexuality studies and sociology at San Francisco State, said he has not heard evidence to support that theory, and was more inclined to believe the shift was economic in nature.
Carrington wondered whether the tide may have turned on the HIV migration that occurred in the 1990s, when HIV-positive men moved to large cities where health and support services were more accessible. Those men may be finding services elsewhere these days and not feel the pull to San Francisco.
Demographer Hans Johnson of the Public Policy Institute of California noted that whatever the reason, the change has brought the number of young men and women in San Francisco closer to even. Ten years ago, there were about 112.5 men for every 100 women in the 25 to 34 age group. Today, that figure is a more reasonable 103.5 men for every 100 women.
“In 2000, you had a big gender imbalance, and now we’ve moved to a city with a more balanced population of men to women,” Johnson said.
Bottom line: Tell that single friend she should have been here 10 years ago.