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We began to investigate sex ratios in the church when we compared data from two large censuses of religious bodies, one conducted in 1990 and the other in 2008.
The data show that between these two censuses, the proportion of self-identified Latter-day Saints that were female increased rather dramatically … Outside Utah and Mormon strongholds in the Intermountain West, sex ratios within the church remained stable, and were closer to parity than in Utah.
Traditionally, this has provided added incentive for Utah Mormons with marginal personal religiosity to remain in the church, and to follow church behavioral mandates.
However, as Mormon majorities in Utah have declined, the salience of this religious subculture is waning.
And this contributes to a rising sex ratio disparity among Utah Mormons that doesn’t manifest elsewhere.
RNS: Finally, what do you see happening over the next ten years?
RNS: Your research suggests that the increasingly imbalanced sex ratio among Utah Mormons is like the canary in the proverbial coal mine: this is a sign of something bigger, that Utah Mormons are actually becoming less religious.
You attribute the gender gap to a growing trend of apostasy among Mormon men. Phillips: There has been a general secularizing trend in the United States for the past 25 years.
People are abandoning organized religion in large numbers, and those with no denominational affiliation now constitute about 20% of the population.
So, one explanation for what’s going on is that we are seeing how a general pattern in American religious demography is manifesting itself in a Mormon context.
RNS: You note that in Utah, Mormonism is losing “market share,” with only about 60% of Utahns now being LDS.