Utah fact (estimate) of the day

One of my web searches turned up a study from Trinity College’s American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) on the demographics of Mormons. According to the ARIS study, there are now 150 Mormon women for every 100 Mormon men in the state of Utah—a 50 percent oversupply of women.

The article considers data on Orthodox Jews as well, via Jodi Ettenberg.

Solve for the equilibrium, as they say, and please consider as many different variables as possible…


1. LDS Fundamentalist solution. Welcome to St George, Utah.

2. 1/3 (+ another 3% to compensate for Mormon homosexual males) of Mormon women become lesbians.

3. 1/3 of Mormon women leave the Church.

4. Female cannibalism. Brains!

5. ISIL takes over Utah. What Mormon population?

Bring back polygamy.

But the article Tyler links to also says that actually, in Utah, men outnumber women, and this disparity in the numbers of men vs. women in the Mormon Church is of recent vintage, as many young men started dropping out of the church due to a change in rules that made it harder to get anywhere in the Church unless you went on a mission. Missions take two years out of your life, and aren't actually all that popular.

So the real story here is that the Mormon Church shot itself in the foot by driving young men away. It has nothing to do with the larger culture, and no implications for it.

How many Mormon men are actually looking to "get somewhere" in the church? I'm not a Mormon, but I would think that the Mormon religion functions very similar to other Christian denominations in that the only interaction that the vast, vast majority of adherents have with the official church is as parishioners.

I mean, are Mormon men not allowed to get married or work in a Mormon-owned business if they don't go on mission? Are there unspoken, customary sanctions that the community applies to these men?

I'm no expert, but I've read that every Mormon man is somehow nominally a priest. Even if that has no real-world consquences, it still means "getting anywhere in the church" is the same thing as "getting anywhere as a Mormon man".

A simple solution is to, nominally, stop being a Mormon man. If this is the explanation, then I expect a lot of the men who left the LDS haven't changed their theological doctrines much.

"Getting somewhere" in the church is important; maybe informally, but important. The LDS church is different than most US Christen denominations; most members have extensive interaction with the Church. At the local level, there are no professional clergy. Each local congregation has a President and a Bishop that is a member of the congregation serving as a "volunteer." "Sermons" are delivered by congregants on a rotating basis. All congregants have a church "calling." This may be as a worker in the nursery or Sunday School classroom, as a Boy Scout troop leader, as the Bishop.

Note that Mormon Sunday School is not just for kids -- it's for adults.

Taking that as a given, I still don't see why that would cause people to leave the church. But then I've never been a member of a community like the Mormons either. Given the history of persecution that has existed in the US towards Mormons, I can see how being seen to do good within the institution that sets you are apart from the larger society within which your society lives could be very important to those brought up in that society. And I can see where a lot of social pressure might be brought down on those who are seen as non-conformists, which could make some members of the community leave it altogether.

"I mean, are Mormon men not allowed to get married or work in a Mormon-owned business if they don’t go on mission? Are there unspoken, customary sanctions that the community applies to these men?"

Yep. I, personally, was denied a job at a mormon-owned business for that very reason. And the few men who try to hold out without going on a mission face stiff pressure from females, who will refuse to take relationships past a superficial level until he goes on a mission. Of course, she's taken by the time he returns, but that's what the next crop of 18-year-old girls is for, right?

Things may have changed a bit over the last 15 years or so, but these were very much the rules of the game when the game was relevant to me.

I'm a member of the LDS church and I haven't heard of this change you speak of. You have a citation handy?

It's in the article, but I don't seem to be able to read the article any more. Nothing on the Time magazine website is working for me. No scroll bars, no way to get past the first screen of info, etc. I have no idea why. It was working this morning but now it isn't.

From the linked article, which I had to view with "View--Page Style--No Style" in Firefox to see any content:

"So why are there so many more Mormon women than Mormon men? The simple answer is that over the past twenty-five years, Utah men have been quitting the LDS church in unusually large numbers. ARIS’s Cragun, a sociology professor at the University of Tampa who is ex-LDS himself, said the growing exodus of men from the LDS church is an unexpected by-product of the growing importance of the mission in Mormon life. Serving a mission used to be elective; now it’s a prerequisite for leadership.

Contrary to popular belief, the majority of Mormon men do not go on missions, which typically entail a mix of community service and proselytizing. Mormon men are being asked to serve missions at precisely the time in their lives—late teens and early twenties—when sociologists say men are most susceptible to dropping out of organized religion. Cragun believed the dropout problem among men is the real reason why, in 2012, the LDS church lowered the age at which Mormon men can start serving missions from 19 to 18: 'I think they were losing too many men who would go off to college or get a job before they turned nineteen and then realize they didn’t want to stop and serve a mission.'"

Having grown up Mormon and retaining an interest in it so I'm as familiar with the numbers as anyone who isn't privy to insider info, the mission explanation strikes me as implausible. The 'mandatory male mission' happened 50 years ago. The gender disparity is more recent. As far as I can tell, the recent problems for Mormons is that more 20 something males that went on a mission are coming back and then leaving.

Looking at it anecdotally, seeing 'the sausage being made' on a mission might coupled with outside information--or maybe more importantly, an outside identity - - from the Internet seems to be what is pushing the returned missionaries away.

I perused a large file of comments on a website for ex-Mormons, and it seemed like about half of them left the church because of really bad experiences on their mission. Some of those mission hosts apparently treat the missionaries as free labor.

Other major causes include psychopathic bishops (the downside of having a lay clergy) and the church's stance on homosexuality.

Whether it's the increasing emphasis on missions or something else, the fact remains that the reason for the skewed male/female ratio in the church is that young men drop out at much higher rates than young women do. It has nothing to do with the culture at large, it is specific to this particular denomination. So it's a poor example to use in trying to draw out implications for society at large.

I think the dropout style has mostly to do with cognitive styles - men choose hard sciences over women at a similar rate.

The Mormon church treats members of the faith extraordinarily well, and one never wants for a social circle, things to do, or social support. If you lose your job, the Church will help retrain. If you get sick, the ward will put together a service that brings home cooked meals to your door, and if you

The problem is that the narrative of the Book of Mormon is contradicted by DNA evidence, and the Book of Abraham has been completely falsified.

That leaves thinking Mormons with a choice: go along with it for the social circle or commit social suicide by leaving.

There's a few other things about Mormonism that may seem a bit wacky.


Mormons who drop out rarely cite this kind of thing as the cause. But of course empirical evidence is something people with a hard sciences cognitive style, such as yourself, must not care for.

Bingo. And this may mean that the church's decision to try to get more women on missions could backfire.

The additional premise you need to get from Mormons to society at large (or at least a big part of it) is to buy that from here forward those with and without college degrees aren't going to be doing much intermarrying.

Oversupply of women will never be as much as a societal issue than the reverse. There's no "shooting in the foot" going on here at all.

Because contrary to popular opinion, polygamy isn't bad for women as much as the low-status men who can't find a mate.

These men leave the community, leading to an "oversupply" of women.

I have multiple wives. That's bigamy! No, that's big of me.

Mormon doctrine has promoted monogamy for over a century.

Weeeell, what about the sects?

"Promoted", wink wink, nudge nudge.

The winking was true for the first 30 years of the policy, but now the leaders want nothing more than to shake the polygamy doctrine. They hate it and will never embrace it again. Acceptance from mainstream Christianity is their primary objective now.

Just drive through any small rural town in Northern Arizona or southern Utah. It feels like stepping back in time 120 years, and polygamists are rampant. Personally, I think if that's what adults choose, more power to them, but it definitely shows the lie to "Mormons hate polygamy". It would be more accurate to say "Officially, Mormons hate polygamy."

Drive-by sociology. What hath Goffman wrought?

"Mormon doctrine has promoted monogamy for over a century."

Yes, but only after Congress forced the doctrine change subject to total confiscation of property by Federal agents and criminal prosecutions and prison for stating adherence to the Mormon doctrine. Mitt Romney's dad was born in Mexico when his plural marriage parents fled to escape the religious persecution of multiple Republican Congresses.

The Supreme Court, all Justices appointed by Republicans, ruled religious persecution of Mormons constitutional and not a violation of the first amendment rights of Mormons on religious or speech rights grounds. It was possible for Congress to make stating belief in a doctrine a crime subject to jail, and religion could not be a defense of either speech or actions.

Mexico then adopted laws that were targeted at Americans of which Mormons were especially at risk of violating, so Mormons returned to the US after caving to the Republicans in power, basically a plea deal gaining amnesty for admitting guilt falsely. Anyone who thinks the inerrant word of the prophet are lies is obviously not a believer.

I write this as a liberal in the tone and style of conservatives who are outraged at "their" religious liberty being violated by paying taxes for things they oppose like killing innocent children while calling people who oppose paying taxes for mass murder of innocent women, men, children, and of course "the unborn" as anti-America cowards who should leave "their" country.

One of the legal actions taken after the religious freedom restoration act was to gain the right to withhold the portion of taxes used to fund mass murder, but that got zero support from the religious right who call liberals et al baby killers or imposing atheism on them by requiring health insurance cover contraception.

I can see the ironic justice in Mormons fighting civil gay marriage given their marriage practice was what made them the target of Congress and the Supreme Court. I don't condemn them for banning gay marriage in California. And I will fully support their revisiting the Supreme Court upholding the Congress banning their marriage practice tradition. But boy will that make conservative Republicans so very angry, and I will love that fight. The Republicans two faced views on the Constitution deserves to be exposed for the corrupt power politics it is.

(Democrats are not consistent in large part because it includes so many conservatives as well as liberals - progressives are really conservatives with different dogma - and on almost every issue, holding contradictory points of view are required. Reality is like general relativity and quantum mechanics - energy is both a wave and a particle and one must embrace the experiments that prove one wrong and the other true so both are true and wrong.

In other words: Mormon girls have trouble getting married and it's all the Republicans' fault.
Reminds me of global warming.

Mormons, like many other minorities, have sometimes been treated very badly. That sucks, and we should avoid doing it in the future, but it seems to have little relevance for today's Mormon sex ratio.

This is probably pointless but:

"The Supreme Court, all Justices appointed by Republicans," No, that's not true. Nathan Clifford, for one, was appointed by James Polk, a Democrat.

"so Mormons returned to the US after caving to the Republicans in power"

Mormons fled from Mexico in 1912 due to "anti-American sentiment during the Mexican Revolution".

Or what Jeff said. My bad. I should rtfa.

read then fart accordingly?

hey buddy, get your own name.

Only the males go on missions, right? So, depending on how they counted, that could remove a good number of dudes from the pool.

I see the missions mentioned above. I didn't know that most men don't actually do missions these days. I certainly see them wherever I travel.

Women can go on missions too.

Women do go on missions, although they are shorter (1 yr v 2 yrs). I believe that women serving missions is increasingly common, although it is still less common - and less expected - than men serving missions. A common pattern is that "pre-mission age" LDS women marry slightly older "post mission" LDS men, and you do not serve a mission after you are married (there are other kinds of missions, but for the missions that are discussed here, it is a single persons activity). The recent change to lower the mission age may affect this dynamic. That may be intentional.

I think the women see the church as kind of safety net. By belonging they have the kind of welfare support that men don't need or don't want. Just a theory.

When I lived in Arizona - Mormon country - I knew several single women who got divorced, and then they immediately converted to Mormonism, got married, *boom* - safety net. I think you nailed it, Jan.

LDS church has (what I've heard) the biggest woman's organization in the world: Relief Society. Lots of support and bonding there.

It's more than a safety net. Unless she is "sealed" to her husband in a special religious ceremony, she's going to hell, period, full stop, according to LDS theology. So the stakes are a lot higher (ha ha, get it? stake? that's a mormon insider joke for you) for a woman compared to a man.

That is false, RPLong. LDS doctrine does not hold that people who die without having a temple marriage (or baptism) will go to hell. Additionally, the LDS view of post-mortality is not a simple Heaven vs Hell, as your comment seems to suggest.

You're obfuscating the issue by changing the subject. You're in fact talking about three things: (1) temple marriage, (2) baptism [they are not the same thing] and (3) what they used to call "spirit prison." (I have no idea what they call it these days, nor do I care. The concept is still modern doctrine.)

But I wasn't talking about those things, I was talking about (4) being sealed. A married mormon woman who is not sealed to her husband cannot accompany him in the afterlife and populate new worlds with their spirit babies. So if she's not there, and she's not in "spirit prison," then where is she?

RPLong, sorry to be unclear. The only issue I meant to address is your misleading assertion "unless she is sealed to her husband she's going to hell" is not part of LDS doctrine. (A temple marriage is a sealing to a spouse, by the way.)

Maybe the source of your confusion is that LDS doctrine holds that there is quite a busy afterlife, including a period of time between mortal death and the sorting of people into the places they ultimately end up.* During this period of time spirits (ie people who have finished their mortal life) may be sealed to spouses. It is correct that "an eternal marriage" or "a temple marriage" or "an eternal sealing" (all the same thing) is required to enter the highest real of exaltation. These marriages/sealings may be attained after death. And even then the absence of one does not condemn one to hell; merely it blocks them from the highest level of exaltation. The reason I thought this is worth commenting on is that LDS doctrine sees an extremely robust plan of facilitating people's passage into heaven; your comment suggested otherwise.

*Heaven or hell, if you will, but, again it's not that simple---there are several degrees of what you might call heaven, where the vast majority of people will end up.

Again, what you're saying is merely obfuscatory. She goes somewhere that isn't here, nor is it there, but other than that, you can't say what it is, but you object to the word I used for reasons ambiguously stated. I can accept that you don't know the answer according to the prescribed doctrine - can you?

Rplong I'll try again. There are some religions that hold that you are going to a terrible tortuous place called hell if you don't, for example, get baptized or obtain some other such ordinance while you are in your mortal life. Your initial comment suggested that Mormonism was such a religion, insofar as it holds that a woman who does not get sealed to a man while she has the chance now is destined later for such a hell. It is not. That is my point.

In fact a distinguishing and I think beautiful feature of Mormonism is the belief that even people who don't accept "the gospel" while in this mortal life let alone people who don't get sealed to their spouse will have the opportunity to be exalted. Mormon doctrine does not lead one to go around segmenting people I to hell-bound and not-hell-bound. At best your comment obfuscates that point.

Additionally your comment suggests that the importance of being sealed to a spouse for a woman is somehow different than it is for a man. It is not.

RPLong, you are correct in only one vacuously narrow sense: in LDS theology, "heaven" might be defined as being exalted, i.e. having eternal life, which is forever being in God's presence and, indeed, having God's life, which includes having eternal increase with an eternal spouse, and having infinite capacity to continue progressing. This requires baptism (whether in mortality or while temporarily in "spirit prison") AND temple marriage/being sealed (which are the same thing for both men and women alike). Anything else necessarily implies having one's progress eternally limited in some way. While, as Dave correctly points out, there are any number of such "heavenly" outcomes, you were (to me, anyway) obviously talking about hell as some undesirable, and indeed, unfairly undesirable, state, which Dave also correctly points out, which is not the case. You are also wrong to distinguish between outcomes by sex: "Unless she is 'sealed' to her husband in a special religious ceremony, she’s going to hell", you could have just as easily said "Unless *he* is 'sealed' to *his* wife in a special religious ceremony, *he's* going to hell" and made exactly the same point, which is wrong as explained previously.

Both of you: Stop it. This is insanity. You're either not very well versed in mormon theology or you're going off on a tangent. Women who aren't sealed to their husbands can't have spirit babies and populate alternate universes. Men can. All additional paragraphs of testimony you wish to bear on MarginalRevolution.com is irrelevant to my comment, and I'll thank you not to further pollute the thread.

You know less about Mormons than the average Wikipedia reader.

Mormons believe that practically everyone is going to heaven.

In Mormon belief, both men and women have to be married in the temple to get to the highest degree of heaven. While both men and women who aren't married in the temple are eligible for other degrees of heaven.

Let me repeat, for the benefit of the dull-witted: Mormons believe that almost everybody is going to heaven.


Contra your most recent comment, the official church scripture insists that unsealed men are barred from the highest exaltation.


"1 In the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees;

2 And in order to obtain the highest, a man must enter into this order of the priesthood [meaning the new and everlasting covenant of marriage];

3 And if he does not, he cannot obtain it."

Furthermore, an official church manual guarantees that those who are unmarried in this life will have the opportunity to be sealed in the life to come.


"For teachers: All members, whether married or single, need to understand the doctrine of eternal marriage. However, you should be sensitive to the feelings of adults who are not married. As needed, help class members or family members know that all Heavenly Father’s children who are faithful to their covenants in this life will have the opportunity to receive all the blessings of the gospel in the eternities, including the opportunity to have an eternal family."

To conclude, sealing is required for both men and women to obtain the highest exaltation, and either men or women who are unsealed in this life will have the opportunity to be sealed in the life to come.

My prediction--Mormons crack down on incipient feminism in their ranks; resore Patriarchy. Fewer Mormon men drop out. Equilibrium restored.

Interesting idea. Maybe so.

Orthodox Jews have maintained patriarchy, and according to the article don't have problems with men leaving.

In the very small sample set of Mormons I happen to know, a slight majority of the young men went on their mission, came back, and were married within 2 years. That restored equilibrium in the local circumstances of which I know. (None of the young women went on missions.)

Max L.

Right - social status in Mormon circles is radically enhanced by going on a mission. Being a return missionary has about the same sexual market value as finishing an MD

The number of Mormons in the ARIS sample is quite small. Reporting the percentages of Men and women without margins of error is irresponsible. The margins of error would be quite large.

I do not believe "150 Mormon women for every 100 Mormon men in Utah" statistic, and neither should you.

I don't believe it either. The ratios may be out of whack, but not that bad.

That may accurately reflect BYU attendees, but overall? No way.

What are the divorce rates in these communities? In the secular community, fear of being on the losing end of a divorce, has certainly lowered the marriage rate. There is also the "I went to college and I won't marry someone who didn't." attitude of women, that helps college educated men, and hurts less educated men. In some cities if you have a college degree, a house or condo, and a car, women are throwing themselves at you, but if you don't, good luck getting laid.

young Chinese men should convert, emigrate, and marry?

I seem to recall prior blog posts by Cowen that indicated Mormons do better economically than others. That might attract some to Mormonism but I'm not sure why it would cause Mormon men to leave the faith unless it's fear of failure (when failure is a low bar and Mitt Romney is the standard). Are Mormons who fail (relatively speaking) ridiculed by other Mormons? I've never understood the appeal of the prosperity gospel in the Protestant evangelical community. Sure, it's nice to believe that it's God's will that I be rich, but if I'm not, does that mean He doesn't like me?

Assuming there's nothing off with the statistics on Utah Mormon men and women, it doesn't really surprise me - I'm an ex-Mormon Utah man who dropped off in that time period myself (late teens/early adulthood). The men are more likely to drop off into inactivity in my experience than women, and the resulting gender divide gets particularly pronounced with age - there's something like 10 single Mormon women in Utah for every 4 single Mormon men over the age of 40 IIRC. I figure sooner or later they're going to start tacitly encouraging them to marry outside of the Church.

Changing the "mission eligible" age was definitely a smart move. The problem with the old "19 years old standard" was that you had a gap year where the guy worked, or went to college, or joined the army - and at that point they had something after high school ended as an attachment. At 18 years old, they can just plan to go straight into a mission right after high school.

Former Mormon here, raised LDS. Left because of extreme social pressure to go on a mission, cultish aspects, and factual narrative problems with DNA evidence and the Book of Abraham.

I've dated Mormon girls, and they generally make exceptionally good girlfriends - they're extraordinarily loyal (slightly clingy), cook a lot, feminine, and not nearly as whorish as the median girl these days. They take 3 months to put out instead of 3 hours, but that's part of the appeal. A lot only want men who have been on missions, but many will date non-Mormons.

I may someday go back. For all their flaws, as a group they are a good and trustworthy, if boring, people - like the opposite of a week in Bogota.

"not nearly as whorish as the median girl these days" you must be a real devil with the ladies...

average is over

Get 6 figs and a 6 pack, and suddenly you have an amazing sense of humor

This is not anything new. Ever since the Mormons came to Utah practicing Mormon women outnumbered practicing Mormon men. This is similar to observations during the French revolution during the crackdown on the Catholic Church...there were far more female believers than male. It seems to be a universal observation that women are more likely to believe and be active in their faith whereas men are more likely to default to atheism or agnosticism.

Somewhat similar phenomenon in Singapore where males must serve two years in the military at 18 followed by annual commitments.

It's the longest mandatory service next to Israel.

Problem is the government is very keen on developing an innovative hub in which creative entrepreneurs generate new wealth as traditional sources like oil refining eventually wane.

But how to reconcile the fostering of entrepreneurial spirit when you lock up your young bright things in a military camp?

Singaporeans are none too happy about the fact that young foreigners are encouraged to start business in Singapore without having to make the same sacrifice.

I bet the Singapore government never considered they have something in common with the Mormon Church.

Israel has a huge high tech cluster developed by former military men and mown.

I don't think Israeli's IT/startup economy is suffering because of military service requirements. I think it thrives because of it.

The army isn't just about marching around and doing pushups. You learn a ton of technical skills, teamwork, networking, leadership, discipline, etc. All of those skills are helpful when thinking about launching a new business.

All true. But Israel is actually at war and the military service is active, often risky and highly motivated.

In Singapore, most spend their time idling at local camps and hazily aware that it's more about social engineering (building inter racial cohesion, creating love for country and stemming one of the world's highest emigration rates etc) than national defense.

So the former doesn't have to bother with belief systems and is instead focused on outwitting a real and dangerous enemy while the latter is about subsuming individual identity to the group.

Different outcomes in terms of fostering creativity.

The mismatch of 150 women for every 100 men is, I take it, considering only single men and women, and probably limiting the group even further by other criteria. A large mismatch would be a natural outcome of a system that is mostly successful at pairing people off. If a group marries off 90% of women by age 27 instead of only 50%, that would magnify an imbalance among the remaining singles five-fold. There is probably some well-known, named concept for this among economists.

The solution is what it always will be: The women entice non-mormon boys to convert so they can marry them; the men who don't find mormon girls to marry will marry immigrant girls and force them to convert. Most exceptions to this rule end in divorce.

That's if my personal observation is consistent with the data.

This is the equilibrium.

We need to stop incarcerating so many Mormon men.

Men are everywhere less religious and more individualistic than women, and tend to chafe under a communitarian religion like Mormonism more than women. Mormonism also asks an additional level of sacrifice of men, since they have to go on a years-long overseas mission trying to convince people to join their silly religion. Personally that sounds like my idea of hell.

Also, Mormons NEED to drop the missionary aspect of the religion. Simple numerical growth is not important at this margin--average is over, after all. The missionary requirement for young men tends to drive them away right at the moment men are least able to see the benefits of religious faith--when they want to sow their wild oats, aren't interested in committed relationships, and crave independence from the family structure. As men get older, the structure of formal religion becomes more appealing.

Mormonism should take a page from successful non-proselytizing ethno-religious groups like Jews, Sikhs, and Parsis.

Mormons retain their men at a higher rate than other denominations do. Having a spiritually-intense rite of passage is a big part of that.

Wow, some really shallow theories based on some really incomplete statistical reporting.

150 - 100 single women to men in Utah. Half of young LDS men in Utah go on religious missions leaving the state. It's almost like math explains much of the phenomenon ....

I know, math. It is hard.

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