A recent post by Steve Sailer speculates on the future of Mormonism in the USA.
“Ever since roughly 1890, Mormons have been trying to compensate for the weirdness of their founding era by closely emulating mainstream middle class white American culture (which hasn’t been that hard for them since they tended to start out as mainstream Northwest Europeans). [...] Now, a representative (indeed, exemplary) Mormon [see here on Romney’s ancestry –Hail] is trying [...] to lead his people to the ultimate symbolic level of acceptance, the Presidency.“
A question of high importance when analyzing the Mormon future — and more importantly, the future of White-America in general — is not whether Mormons can elect one of their own to the presidency, but the question of fertility, and trends therein, and specifically what the Mormon TFR (Total Fertility Rate) is. At the risk of stating the obvious: If Mormons have far more children than non-Mormons, then logically, Mormons will form a larger and larger share of the U.S. population, and if we recklessly extrapolate into the 22nd century, could mean that what is left of White-America could be Mormon.
Keep in mind that this has always been way above the general White-American fertility rate, which since the 1970s has been below 2.0.
Mormon Fertility Today
What is Mormon fertility in the 2010s? I cannot locate any information on current Mormon-specific fertility. If anyone has it, please leave a comment. I think a reasonable guess can be made, though: We know that Utah’s state TFR was 2.6 children per woman in the late 2000s. Utah is now only 62% Mormon (down from ~70%, which it had been from the 1890s through the 1980s). Assuming non-Mormon Utahns have a typical-national 2.0 TFR today (a reasonable supposition from the literature on Utah fertility history), that would mean Mormon-Utahns have a ~3.0 TFR in the late 2000s, as well.
If this is representative of all Mormons, we can say that Mormon fertility has settled into being a stable at ~3.0, with no signs of moving.
Mormon Ascent Amid White Decline
If White-Mormon fertility remains a consistent 3.0, each successive Mormon generation will be 143% the size of its parent generation (given a 2.1 replacement TFR), making for steady growth. Meanwhile, as general White-American fertility continues to languish in the 1.6 to 1.7 range, each successive non-Mormon White generation will be something around ~80% as large as its parent generation.
According to wiki, there are 5.2 million White-Mormons in the USA today. There are about 192 million White non-Mormons.
For the sake of simplicity, let’s assume no conversions, steady TFRs as described above (that is to say, TFRs as they are today), generations of the same length for both groups, and identical lifespans. (Note that Mormons have children earlier, so these figures are going to be on the conservative side).
192.0 million White Non-Mormons @ 1.67 TFR
5.2 million White Mormons @ 3.0 TFR
After One Generation:
153.6 million White Non-Mormons
7.4 million White Mormons [4.6% of U.S. Whites]
After Two Generations:
122.9 million White Non-Mormons
10.6 million White Mormons [8.0% of U.S. Whites]
After Three Generations:
98.3 million White Non-Mormons
15.2 million White Mormons [13.4% of U.S. Whites]
After Four Generations:
78.6 million White Non-Mormons
21.7 million White Mormons [21.7% of U.S. Whites]
Such long-term projections are, of course, worthless. What can be said with certainty is that Mormons will continue to grow as a share of White-America, if they can retain such a robust TFR (and avoid large-scale defection from their church, I suppose). Can they?
Similar projections are made for the Amish (7 million Amish by 2050), who have a sky-high TFR (~6.0). Even if the Amish TFR falls after a while, the may well wind up with similar population numbers as the Mormons — perhaps each ‘fringe religion’ exceeding 10% of the White-American population by some point near the end of the present century.
Demography remains destiny.
The commenter MW says that apostasy may sap Mormon growth, which seems likely. On the other hand, that Mormons still in the church can maintain a 3.0 TFR in this hypermodern society is astonishing, and suggests that, years from now, as White ranks begin to seriously contract from decades of subreplacement fertility, other Whites may be attracted to convert to Mormonism, seeing it as a dynamic outpost of a disappearing White-America. On the third hand, may we be wrong to suppose Mormonism will continue to be quintessentially ‘White’ (NW European)? The church is already 16% Nonwhite in the USA. Comments addressing any of these points are welcome.
[For the record: I have no connection to Mormonism. Although of NW-European-descent, I am a Protestant].