Mormon Fertility in the 21st Century and America’s Destiny

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.

Mormon Fertility History
1850s to 1890s: ~8.0 children per woman
1970s: 4.4 children per woman [Mormons in Utah only]
1980s: 3.3 children per woman
1990s: 3.0 children per woman

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].

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30 Responses to Mormon Fertility in the 21st Century and America’s Destiny

  1. MW says:

    One problem. In the internet age, hundreds of thousands of educated Mormons are dropping away. This is one reason why Utah is now only 62% Mormon, even though the first thing most people contemplate as ex-Mormons is to flee the state.

    As I did.

    • Hail says:

      You may have a point: claims as follows:

      Number of Mormons in the USA
      1957: 1.4 million [assumed ~1.4 million are White]
      1979: 2.7 million [assumed ~2.6 million are White]
      1998: 4.8 million [assumed 4.3 million are White]
      2012: 6.2 million [5.2 million of whom are White, according to wiki]

      Mormonism’s growth in the 1960s and 1970s was astonishing: The population nearly doubled between 1957 and 1979 [0.9 doublings].

      Over the past 15 years, the White-Mormon population increased by less than a million, though (depending on exactly what share of Mormonism was White in 1998 — I assume ~90%, or 4.3 million) — This is only one-fifth of one population-doubling in 15 years, and extrapolating, we could expect White-Mormons to increase by 1.3 million between 1998 and 2020, to 5.6 million, or 0.3 population doublings.

      To summarize White-Mormon population growth:
      1957-1979 [22 years]: 0.9 doublings.
      1998-2020 [22 years]: 0.3 doublings.

      To what extent does this come from lower TFRs, and to what extent to ‘apostasy’?

  2. not too late says:

    MW, how many kids do you have?

    Will Mormons lose proportionally more dumb ones? I ask because you can’t really be Mormon unless you do x,y,z. It is my understanding they lose the losers who can’t, won’t but anyhow don’t do the stuff required to be Mormon. I am talking long term. Loser Mormon kid grows up and doesn’t continue as a Mormon. He might not get kicked out directly but if he doesn’t ever have kids or doesn’t register the ones he has, they won’t be mormon. Also, any better seed he has that grow up to be competent may in fact see him as the loser he is and if religiously inclined lean toward Mormonism given family history rather than lean away like the kids of loser catholics and protestants. Just thinking out loud.

  3. Justin says:

    I have both studied Mormons extensively and lived among them for a long period of time. They are racially WASP to the core: upper class sensibilities, intelligent, hard-working, and conformist. Their success represents the absolute ESSENTIALITY of Christianity to the success of our race.

    Oddly enough, despite providing many of the last few pockets of Whitopia in America, they are ardent anti-racists. They shudder and quake when faced with the evidence of their Founder Father’s racialism, and they seem to be intent upon making up for it with their own anti-racism today. As a result, they are full-throated supporters of immigration.

    Religiously speaking, the big problem for Mormonism in the Internet Era is how easy it is to discover that Joe Smith was a fraud. Their rate of apostasy is not sky high, but it is notably higher than most forms of conservative Christianity.

    For both of the above reasons, I do not think Mormonism can provide a racial bulwark. Even where Mormonism succeeds (its high birth rate), it fails (its pro-immigrationism and anti-racism).

    • Hail says:

      Thanks for your insights, Justin.

      I can understand Mormons being racially-naive, as you suggest. They have no tradition of dealing with Nonwhites in recent memory.

      Maybe this could change in years to come. We all start out in this world racially naive, right? But we learn.

      Romney’s comment about “understanding America’s Anglo-Saxon heritage” (and how Obama does not and cannot, or something to that effect) is something I cannot imagine any president since Nixon saying.

      • Justin says:

        “No tradition of dealing with Nonwhites” is not quite accurate. True for blacks, certainly, but not for others. Mormons single-handedly created the “Polynesian pipeline” into Utah and Arizona, for example, largely as an offshoot of their evangelical work in Oceania. They are also FULL supporters of Mestizo immigration. For insight, read “the Utah Compact” which is their semi-official statement on immigration policy (spoiler: it is fully pro-amnesty).

        Like their racial cousins, the WASPs of the northeast, they love immigration for moral posturing, and especially for economic reasons (they being the employers and land-owners). Natural upper-class WASP pro-immigrationism is then amplified by the particular Mormon religious imperatives (which means, basically, church growth at any cost).

        I would go so far as hazard the guess that the seeming bump in TFR happening among Mormons is actually a product of CLASS difference. It is known that upper-class men have more children, for example, and Mormonism is a heavily upper-class phenomenon (Mormons are in the top-3 of the wealthiest sub-groups in America).

        Most of Mormonism’s seeming advantages are like that: a result of being a population sample of mainly upper-class whites.

    • DougH says:

      One correction: Joseph Smith wasn’t racist – he was the one that ordained the first Black men in the Church to the priesthood, and from his own statement believed that the only difference between Blacks and Whites was environmental, not genetic. Brigham Young was quite a different story, though….

      As for the internet, we’ll adjust – bring our own views online so the world can get our views and not just those that disagree with us.

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  5. Hail says:

    2012 Study on Mormon Fertility in England

    ~3.5: Average completed TFR for English Mormons (aged over 40).
    ~1.8: Average completed TFR over past 30 years (steady) among among White-British generally. (A ‘Both Parents White’ UK TFR would, presumably, be ~1.6).

    The number of Mormons in the UK has risen from 6,500 in the 1960s to 190,000 members (LDS 2008 figures)” [Source] — If accurate, this is five population doublings in 50 to 60 years!

  6. Hail says:

    Justin wrote:
    “No tradition of [Mormons] dealing with Nonwhites” is not quite accurate

    Mormon ancestral stock is probably more post-1840 European than Colonial-American. For instance, I was surprised to learn that there were more Mormons in England in the early 1850s than there were in the USA, but by the 1960s, there were only a few thousand in the UK. Almost all emigrated in the 1800s to Utah, including many of Mitt Romney’s ancestors. Only about a quarter of Mitt’s ancestors were in the USA during the American Revolution.

    Now, people in England in the early-to-mid 1800s were already propping up their own identity by looking down on Colonials for their ‘racism’ — A proto-SWPLism, we could deem it. As English people still in England neither saw nor dealt with Nonwhites on any kind of common basis, they can only be counted as racially naive, which allowed for that. George III’s policies, even as early as the 1760s, were already pro-Amerindian and ‘anti-White’ — He wanted to reserve North America west of the Appalachians for Indians(!).

    I guess my suggestion is that Mormons are drawn mostly from people who did not have exposure to Nonwhites, either in the formative period of modern identity (1700s, 1800s) or presently, very much. Their initial period, led by Colonial-American eccentrics like Joseph Smith, had a pretty strong degree of Racialism, but that faded in time — after they isolated themselves and absorbed so many Europeans with no historical memory of race conflict (as all Colonials had had). Today, perhaps, it’s best to call them racially-naive. As are most White-Americans outside the Deep South.

  7. (I am the author of the mormonfertility blog you cite above.)

    Thanks for doing these demographic projections.

    A further interesting exercise is to project the proportion of Mormon in the ruling elite (approx top 10 or 15 percent by intelligence) – the ruling elite are likely to have a considerably higher proportion of Mormons than the general population because 1. Mormons have a somewhat higher average IQ than the general population – maybe 105? and 2. Mormon fertilty by social class goes in the opposite direction than the general population – higher social class predicts larger families for Mormons but smaller families for the general population.

    I once did some back of envelope calculations (in some blog comment somewhere!) that came out that (using the top 10 percent cut off) from 6 million current US Mormons we would expect more than 600,000 elite members already – say roughly one million (from a ruling elite of 30 million).

    Then each generation of Mormons would approximately double their representation while each generation of the current ruling elite would approximately halve their representation (due to the ultra low fertility of elite women – about 1) – so there would be, very roughly, a fourfold increase in the representation of Mormons in elite positions every 25 years or so; which ought to be very obvious over a decade-by-decade timespan.

    So currently Mormons are about 3 percent of teh ruling elite; then each generation it would quadruple… After not many decades Mormons would be the single largest group, rather like Ashkenazi Jews have been in mathematics, psychiatry or academic law.

  8. Anonymous says:

    no help

  9. cori75 says:

    It is interesting that these types of posts always seem to dissolve into personal rants both for and against the Mormon religion. These arguments are just shallow distractions to what is really an unusual demographic occurrence. The racial dealings of all cultures and ethnicities with one another are generally biased. It is an unfortunate fact of human nature. No mention is made here of the fact that there are large groups of non-white Mormons with higher than average birth rates in the US and many other countries. It’s a brave, new world outside the western US, folks. Higher fertility rates are common among people who seriously practice their religion all over the world, not just Mormons. Perhaps the most unusual aspect of this phenomenon is that Mormon women are generally well-educated compared to their peers and still have a higher fertility rate. This is highly unusual everywhere in the world. In general, the less-educated a women is, the more children she is likely to have. An objective look at this point, from the perspective of demographics and not personal religious opinions, is a fascinating point of study. The book “How Civilizations Die” by David Goldman provides a thorough explanation of the consequences of choosing childlessness all over the world for the last three millenia. It’s an excellent and informative read. And by the way, he’s not Mormon. A last thought…I live in the “deep south” and I find your preoccupation with race disturbing in the 21st century. Our nation’s current problems have more to do with the untenable spread of socialism in the form of entitlements than the red herring argument of race issues. Fortunately, liberals hate children so they will eventually be extinct.

  10. John S. says:

    May I suggest a third ‘fringe’ group – Reformed Christians. Traditionally have highly valued the Bible which values children which tends to larger families. The same ‘apostasy’ issue, which seems less likely in Amish, applies.
    Muslims have little apostasy as they are often killed. Pretty effective model if you are intent on world dominion.

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  14. I am a highly over educated Mormon, single mom of 8 kids. I’d have gladly had 8 more if I’d remarried in time to do so because kids ROCK! I’d say that being so highly educated and including faith in my educational experiences has helped me sort through the trustworthy information and the less than trustworthy information throughout my studies and my career. While I did intend on being a full time mom and I believe highly that moms who work and have families are more martyrs than anything, doing “Self harm” seems to be “the norm” in our society where financial accomplishments outweigh any other value or accomplishment in our society. My values, while partially influenced by the Mormon religion, were something I was definitely “born with”. I converted at the age of 9, but I already had the ability to identify truth and fiction at the age of 3 when I decided completely against the use of alcohol ever in my life, having witnessed my very loving non Mormon family members drinking socially together. They just seemed like “something was wrong with them” from a very child-like perspective, and since they’d been drinking and offering us tastes, I logically concluded that since they hadn’t looked, acted, sounded, and smelled so oddly when they were not drinking that stuff, that it couldn’t be good for anyone…so when I did find the church with the missionaries, hearing many of the things they taught, I knew that it was the truth based on my early childhood experiences, of which this example is just one of many! As for birth rates, I googled to find that out, myself, but sadly, this is the best resource for information I could find out there. Thanks for your blog, and as far as Mormons go, this guy is reporting things on a very unbiased point of view, just a heads up for all you non Mormons out there. 🙂 We are smarter than most because we believe the “Glory of God is intelligence” both secular (non religious) and spiritual or religious intelligence! Besides, with the Holy Ghost, literally any person can “know the truth of all things” which helps worthy, Mormon standard living members, smarter than others, just because we have a spiritual “aid” bringing that “intelligence” to us. 🙂 Good luck in your stats findings endeavors! I do hope you figure it out because I can’t for the life of me, find them anywhere else…

  15. You can probably do the math about growth rates by following this page but again, it’s not birth rates, it’s just overall church growth rates. Pretty remarkable growth history if you ask me, though. You can see in the first 50 years, there was a temporary decline in growth between 1855 and 1859 before it began to rise steadily again. While right now we have a declining birth rate or membership rate, I have every confidence whatever is causing it will reverse within a short period of time and we’ll see the growth factors restored to previous norms. Just so you know, not all members are active. These numbers include both practicing Mormons and non practicing Mormons. No report on this page for 2014.

    • mormoninutah says:

      I get really tired of the activity rate comments. How many Evangelicals, Catholics,Jews, ect are active? Mormons have activity rates way about most religions.

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  19. mormoninutah says:

    You left out the Danish factor. Many Utahns are descended from people who came to Utah from Denmark.

  20. Gwendolyn Hale says:

    I have lived in Utah as a non-Mormon for 23 years. A Mormon family with only 3 children is very hard to find. The average is 4-5 with probably a quarter of all Mormon families having 6-7 children. Most of my friends are Mormon and I have encountered exactly two Mormon families in 23 years with only two children. And after raising three children here I have met a lot of families. Women who are unable to have at least three children tend to adopt the rest. It is a church expectation that youth will marry young (early twenties), not delay childbearing and have large families. My son’s piano teacher has 14 children!

    • Hail says:

      If the average really is 3.0 children per family in the recent decades, it suggests you knew Mormons who were even more family-oriented than usual!

  21. David says:

    To what extent do your predictions and conclusions take account of the existence of American non-White Mormons? (Trying to find figures on what percentage of active American Mormons are non-White, I found a Pew Research Study { } which apparently excluded or didn’t find any non-White Mormon respondents; but I know they exist. There’s a Polynesian man in my stake presidency, and an African-American boy in my primary class; when I lived in Detroit, each of the branches I attended was majority African-American.)

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