Statistical Profile of Mormons - Health, Wealth, and Social Life

Author: Heaton, Tim B., Stephen J. Bahr and Cardell K. Jacobson


“This book is a valuable contribution to American religious studies in general and to Mormon studies in particular. In a single volume, it provides us with a rich and reliable social portrait of one of this nation's largest and most influential religious communities. Its contributions are methodological as well as substantive. That is, it draws upon not just one but several different national surveys, each a scientifically reliable and high quality study in its own right. As the findings from these various surveys converge, therefore, the results represent a broad consensus from the data, both on the social portrait generally and on the most important specifics. Nowhere else in either the scientific or the popular literature is there such an extensive collection of reliable data on the social characteristics of American Latter-day Saints (Mormons) … These are only a few examples of the rich discoveries awaiting both Mormon and non-Mormon readers of this important and unprecedented social portrait of contemporary American Mormons. Especially noteworthy is the recognition that all of the different aspects of the Mormon "life-style" addressed here are mutually reinforcing and thereby produce a coherent American subculture. From here on, any journalists or scholars purporting to make reliable and authoritative comments on Mormons will be required to consult this book if their work is to have public credibility. We can be grateful to these authors for their painstaking work in putting this collection together.” – (From the Commendatory Preface) Armand L. Mauss, Professor Emeritus, Department of Sociology, Washington State University

“This is a landmark study of the attitudinal and behavioral correlates of Mormon doctrinal beliefs and religious practices. As a statistical portrait of contemporary Mormons it is unsurpassed in its scope and methodological sophistication and should stand as the standard reference for years to come. Focusing on U.S. Mormons, this study addresses the question: In what ways are members of the LDS Church similar to yet also different from their non-LDS counterparts in the United States with regard to socioeconomic status; religiosity; family and marital norms over the life course; crime, victimization, and drug use; health and happiness; and social and political attitudes. Answers to these question are based on a thorough examination of a number of well known national data sets collected by social science researchers from which the authors of this book have been able to obtain LDS sub-samples to compare to non-LDS respondents. The result is a systematic comparative analysis of hundreds of items on scores of national survey measures. While the authors are devout Mormons, they also are competent social scientists. Their approach is uniformly objective … It is a work that will win scholarly respect while also attracting the attention of religious leaders and interested lay readers. What emerges from the constellation of survey results assembled in this book is an absorbing analysis of the way in which the beliefs and practices of a religious culture contribute to both similarities and differences in its members’ lives relative to non-members who live in the same society.” – Professor Gordon Shepherd, University of Central Arkansas

“This study is the most thorough and complete investigation of LOS social life to date. Using U.S. trends as a reference point, Heaton, Bahr and Jacobson compare Mormons with the general populace in order to examine the role of religion on many dimensions. Presenting research ranging from the economic attainment to sexual fidelity and drug use to depression, this work offers a fascinating view of the myriad ways religion affects people. The authors have struck a fine balance between analytic detail and readability. Social scientists will enjoy the thorough case study found herein. Others will benefit from the authors' introduction of social scientific theories that help to summarize trends in the data. The conclusions are well-supported with rigorous methodology: Mormons tend to live longer, be more family-minded, and are less likely to be involved in a crime. They are more socially conservative, have higher self-esteem, and yet also are more likely to experience depression. The analyses also prompt interesting questions that are not addressed in these data. For example, the discussion of financial attainment is quite thorough, but the data offer no insight into Utah's (and hence Mormons') reputation for gullibility in financial matters. Other findings also suggest directions for future research, particularly in areas such as the role of religion in depression rates among women, religion's ability to help people who have suffered abuse, and churches' efforts to meet the needs of a diverse membership. On these issues the authors offer sound speculation that deserves to be tested empirically. Heaton, Bahr and Jacobson present an intriguing picture of a people and their faith. This book is very well-suited for sociology of religion and religious studies classes. It is also a fine example of the wealth of information to be garnered by the careful combination of survey data.” – Professor Michael Nielsen, Georgia Southern University

Table of Contents

List of Figures
List of Tables
1. Introduction
2. Socioeconomic Status
3. Religiosity
4. Mormon Families Over the Live Course
5. Crime, Victimization, and Drug Use
6. The Health and Happiness of LDS People
7. Social and Political Attitudes
8. Conclusion
Index of Names