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BMG Singles – Why So Many?

When discussing the shiduch crisis, often the following question comes up:  “If there are so many more young women than young men in the shidduch parsha, then why are there a significant number of single bochurim still at BMG in Lakewood”?   The one-line answer is that when there are many more choices, some young men will hold out for more demands, since they can always back off from those demands in the future.

There was a secular article in Time Magazine that looked into the issue why secular non-Jewish girls were having a problem getting a date, and more specifically getting married.  Here is a relevant quote from that article.   “According to sociologists, economists and psychologists who have studied sex ratios throughout history, the culture is less likely to emphasize courtship and monogamy when women are in oversupply. Heterosexual men are more likely to play the field, and heterosexual women must compete for men’s attention.”  You can read the whole Time article

BMG currently has a freezer rule, whereby a single bochur coming to BMG for the first time cannot involve himself in shidduchim for the first three months that he is at BMG.  If he is already dating, he must say whom he is dating, and he can get engaged to that one person.  Also, if a bochur is already engaged, they will accept him into BMG.  The overwhelming majority of new entrants (about 850 be”h in 2015) are single, and are on average 23 years old.  With all the above restrictions, we know from studying previous years’ statistics, that more than 60% become engaged in the first year of entering BMG, and more than 80% become engaged within two years of entering BMG.  The remaining 20% (170 in our example), are now 25 years old.  Of course there are 26 year old single bochurim, as well as 27, 28, and 29 year old bochurim, and a very few that are approaching 30 years old or perhaps  a little older, and are still single.  Here are some numbers from a November 2015 study.  At that time there were 1197 single bochurim at BMG.  Here is the age breakdown.

Age of Bochurim at BMG     

      in November 2015            # of single bochurim
Less than 22                                   35
Between 22 and 23                       226
Between 23 and 24                       457
Between 24 and 25                       215
Between 25 and 26                       109
Between 26 and 27                         66
Between 27 and 28                         35
Between 28 and 29                         22
Between 29 and 30                         15
Between 30 and 35                           4
Over 35                                             5
Total # of singles                         1197                  (247 are between ages 25-30)

Therefore, though we have 250 bochurim in BMG that are over 25 years old at any given time, it is not nearly enough, because there are perhaps 1,000 young women aged 23 through 32 that are hoping to get engaged to these 250 young men.  It should be obvious, that under the best of circumstances, 750 of these young women cannot possibly find their zivug, simple because there are not enough young men at BMG for all of them.  The 250 bochurim will almost all get engaged by the time they are 30 (the latest study shows that 97% of BMG singles are engaged by age 30).  This will unfortunately mean that 750 of the original 1,000 that hoped to get engaged to this group of 250, will be close to age 30 or older and still be single.  It is therefore a mirage to assume that the 250 “older” bochurim of BMG are a salvation for all the young women that are looking for a shidduch. 

Now, not all LItvish/Yeshivis young women have to marry a BMG bochur.  Perhaps there are other choices.  It is important to note that we know that approximately 50% of all Litvish/Yeshivish bochurim that are single at age 23 are in fact entering BMG.  When looking at the whole universe of Litvish/Yeshivish people, there are about 500 young men over the age of 25, with a corresponding number of about 2,000 young women in the same age demographic.  While we used BMG in our analysis, the overall picture would be the same if we included the non BMG bochurim. 

The Gedolim of our time have offered a solution to the crisis, namely that we start shidduchim for bochurim at a younger age.  The sooner we heed the words of the Gedolim, the sooner the problem will be resolved.