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ADRIAN - How come Utah does not have the best Social Statistics? As you know they measure with the highest accuracy possible the degree of wellbeing of a certain population. Utah is the state with the highest concentration of LDS people. Should it be logical that we find the people with the best statistics in Utah? Instead Massachusetts or Minnesota are doing better in most indicators. If we go outside US, such as in Japan or Germany, the gap becomes worse. Can you tell me your opinion in this matter?

JOEL - First of all lets look at some other statistics about the state. Utah is about 68% LDS. Of that 68% it has been estimated that only about 40% of those members are actively living the gospel and participating to various degrees in the church. That means that only 27% of the people in Utah are active participants in the LDS church. So the social statistics that are quoted are going to mostly represent the remaining 73% of the Utahans which are either non-LDS or are inactive LDS. I assume you are refering to some of the less than flattering statistics such as, Utah having the #1 highest bankruptcy rate in the nation; or that Utah has the highest rate per capita of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. Or that it is among the highest in suicide rates, or that it is ranked high in subscriptions to pornographic web sites.

These stats might sound bad, but one cannot directly relate such statistics to one religious organization within the state, especially if the active participants of that organization only represents 27% of the population.
One must also consider the details and conditions under which some studies are performed. For example, government studies on suicide rate, like the one mentioned earlier, do not cite religion or the spiritual beliefs of the ones committing suicide. Another study in the American Journal of Epidemiology reports that active Latter-day Saints are seven times Less Likely to commit suicide.

Other stats report Utah ranked seventh in total prescriptions use overall. This indicates that Utahans are heavier than average users of all prescription medications, which would then naturally result in an increase in the number of anti-depresants used. People of other states could be just as depressed but perhaps less likely to get medical help for it. Idaho and Arizona, the two other states in the "Mormon Corridor" with large LDS populations, did not rate high in antidepressant use. If LDS culture is responsible for high levels of stress leading to antidepressant use, why didn't those two states rank closer to Utah? Utah has significant restrictions on the display and sales of hard core pornographic materials. The Utah Statutes have the effect of making it much more difficult to get easy access to adult material. This forces those who might otherwise buy magazines or other adult materials to use the web to get access to that information.

Contrast those statistics with others that you may not know about:

Data from the U.S. Govt. Census Bureau lists Utah as the state with the lowest teen pregnancy rate and the lowest abortion rate in the United States. (Statistical Abstract of the United States 1997)

In 1996, Utah was ranked as the #1 best state to raise children in (Children's Rights Council)

A 1997 report ranked Utah as having the fewest births to unwed mothers. 16% of all births in Utah were to unmarried mothers. The national average was over 30%. Utah's birthrate is highest in the nation: But out-of-wedlock birthrate is lowest (National Center for Health Statistics)

LDS women are more likely to graduate from college than Catholic or Protestant women. LDS women are more likely to be employed in professional occupations than Catholic or Protestant women. ("Religion and Gender: A Comparison of Canadian and American Student Attitudes)

According to U.S. Bureau of Census data released April 2000, Utah "spends a larger percentage of state dollars on education" than any other state.

Probably because of the LDS strict health code, Utah has the lowest rates of smoking, alcohol use, lung cancer, etc. The National Institute of Mental Health ranked Utah as the second-lowest U.S. state in new inpatient admissions to state mental hospitals and the ranked Utah as having the lowest per-capita alcohol consumption. (Sources: MMR Weekly, July 28, 1989 / 38(29);501-505; Neergaard, Lauran (Associated Press). "Cancer rates inch down, mostly for men", Wednesday, April 21, 1999; National Institute of Mental Health. Additions and Resident Patients at End of Year 1986. Rockville, Md., 1988]

In 2000, Self magazine ranked Provo, Utah as the number 1 healthiest city in the country for women.

In a ranking of "Family Values", based on marriage rate, divorce rate, suicide rate, AIDS rate, data from the World Almanac of the U.S.A. shows that Utah was ranked 4th highest in the nation in Family values.

According to the latest Bureau of Justice Statistics, Utah has fewer people per capita in prison (a lower incarceration rate) than all but six states.

According to IRS tax returns, Utahns rank first among all U.S. states in the proportion of income given to charity by the wealthy.

The American Legislative Exchange Council's (ALEC) Report Card on Education 1996 reported that Utah was ranked 7th academically in the nation, despite the fact that the state spent less money on education.

Utah has one of the highest high school graduation rates in the nation (ranked third in 1990-92, with 93.9%, behind North Dakota and Iowa.(National Center for Education Statistics.)

National demographic studies indicate that couples in which both partners are Latter-day Saints (and who marry in a Latter-day Saint temple) have the lowest divorce rate among all U.S. social and religious groups studied.

Salt Lake City has long been ranked number one among U.S. cities in Jell-O consumption (Salt Lake Tribune, 14 Dec. 1999)
Well, forget that last one :-)

The above stats are a little old and perhaps have changed a little over the last 10 years, but the point is that critics of the LDS church like to focus on the few seemingly bad statistics that are reported about Utah to point a condeming finger at the LDS Church. They conviently choose to not include the more numerous favorble statistics listed above, nor provide important details about the statistics they quote. But given the earlier fact about the actual low percentage of active LDS members in the state it's hard to know how to interpret any of the good or bad statistics. You can't just look at the state statistics; you would have to consider the statistics within the 27% of active LDS members to see how the church is affecting them.

Another thing to consider is that LDS people have to suffer though this life just like anybody else. Belonging to any religion, even if it's the "true" church, does not exempt one from having tirals and social problems. "for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust." (Matt 5: 45) We are all here to expereince trials and have been given the agency to choose how we handle them.

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