Friday, December 16, 2011

Gender gap widens among Mormons

Excerpts of Gender gap widening among Utah Mormons, but why? by Peggy Fletcher Stack, The Salt Lake Tribune.  See here where a BYU researcher questions this survey.
A new survey shows Mormon women outnumber men in the LDS Church — and the gap appears to be widening, especially in Utah.

Sociologists Rick Phillips, of the University of North Florida, and Ryan Cragun, of the University of Tampa, suggest it could be because Mormon men in the Beehive State are abandoning their faith at a greater rate than women.

But other scholars see an array of possible reasons, including the view that more women than men join the Utah-based Church

The report, "Mormons in the United States 1990-2008: Socio-Demographic Trends and Regional Differences," released Wednesday by Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., found that 60 percent of Utah Mormons are women, up from 52.5 percent two decades ago.

It also showed that the state's Mormon majority continues to shrink, down to 57 percent, although Utah remains the only state where a religious denomination accounts for more than half the populace.

Like most Christian denominations in the United States, Mormonism "has a surplus of women," Phillips and Cragun write. "In 1990, this surplus was more pronounced among Mormons outside Utah, where 54.9 percent of Latter-day Saints were female, compared to 52.5 percent in Utah. By 2008, a dramatic shift had occurred. While the male-to-female ratio actually narrowed somewhat in most of the nation, it widened significantly in Utah. Females now outnumber males in Utah 3 to 2."

In the past, Mormon men remained tied to the church rather than lose their social standing in the community, argue Phillips and Cragun, both on the board of the Mormon Social Science Association. "However, declining Mormon majorities [in Utah] may have weakened that link, and Mormon men who lack a strong subjective religious commitment to the church are now free to apostatize without incurring sanctions in other social settings."

They further speculate that women who cannot find LDS marriage partners often wed outside the faith, becoming more vulnerable to divorce. In addition, children born to "mixed-faith marriages are less likely to remain in the church."