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on dating at the University of North Carolina, where for every three women there are only two men.

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Relatively little such data exists for teenagers, who mostly work the old-fashioned meet-someone-in-homeroom way.

But in examining the Add Health data, he and his colleagues found one classic economic tenet driving the byzantine high-school dating market: Scarcity determines value.

Though that will undoubtedly come as cold comfort to those legions of lonely 14-year-old boys.

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Economists Peter Arcidiacono and Marjorie Mc Elroy of Duke and Andrew Beauchamp of Boston College examined an enormous trove of data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, more commonly known as The poll asked a broad range of questions about health and behavior—and the data set has become the basis of dozens of famed medical, sociological, and economic studies.

(For instance, James Fowler of UC-San Diego recently used data from Add Health be a genetic foundation for an individual's political beliefs.) For their paper, Arcidiacono, Mc Elroy, and Beauchamp focused on the dating and sex lives of high schoolers—a subject much-analyzed by magazine editors and romantic-comedy screenwriters, but less familiar to social scientists.

These are truisms known to anyone who has watched 10 minutes of a teen movie or spent 10 minutes in a high school cafeteria.

So are some other old prom-era chestnuts: Teen boys are primarily—obsessively?

What the researchers looked for is called, in academic-speak, "matching": the likelihood and factors that lead to any individual partnering up.

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