Public Health Benefits of Culture

Thursday, August 21st, 2014

The Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) provide a dramatic case study of the “public health” benefits resulting from involvement in a particular culture:

The Mormons have created a distinctive culture with remarkable health and welfare benefits. Utah, where 70% of the population are Mormon, has the lowest, or near the lowest, rates of smoking, lung cancer, heart disease, alcohol consumption, abortions, out-of-wedlock births, work-days missed due to illness, and the lowest child poverty rate in the country. Utah ranks highest in the nation in number of AP tests taken, number of AP tests passed, scientists produced per capita, percentage of households with personal computers, and proportion of income given to charity.

Utah is often ranked among the best places to live and the best places to raise children. Provo, more than 90% Mormon, was ranked by Self magazine as the healthiest city for women in the country, because it had the lowest incidence of cancer, violence, depression, etc.

Within Utah, it is clear that Mormons are disproportionately represented within these positive statistics, and Mormon populations outside Utah share similar phenomenally positive statistics. Indeed, although no academic researcher would dare to propose such a thing, one could conclude that a mass conversion to Mormonism would reduce social problems more effectively than all welfare spending, academic research, and public health initiatives in the last fifty years.


  1. Faze says:

    I’ve been saying exactly this for years at dinner parties and getting looks of horror in return. Tyler Cowen has recommended strict religion as a solution to the problems of the ghetto. This is an idea whose time has come.

  2. Lingu says:

    Highly dependent on the religion. I’m thinking some religions may be more “constructive” than others.

  3. Rob De Witt says:

    I’m thinking some religions may be more “constructive” than others.

    Episcopalianism, for instance, has rarely been shown to have much of an effect of any kind….Perhaps because the Ten Commandments have essentially been replaced with “Whatever.”

  4. Toddy Cat says:

    As a Trad Episcopalian, I’d say that you’re unfortunately probably right, if you’re talking about modern Episcopalianism. But C.S. Lewis was an Anglican, and in earlier years, people went to the stake in defense of Anglican/Episcopalian principles. Lots of modern “mainline” Protestant churches have devolved into hippie-style pap, with Methodists probably the worst, and Piscops and Presbyterians not far behind. But there are still lots of traditionalist mainliners around, and “We’ll be Back!”, God willing.

  5. Barnabas says:

    Reading J.I. Packer’s (Anglican) “Knowing God” was a life-changing experience for me. It was the most reasoned and coherent presentation of Christian theology that I had ever encountered. I went on a search to find a church that taught that theology, and the Presbyterian PCA church is as close as I have been able to get.

  6. Barnabas says:

    I’m sure I’m not the only one thinking about it right now, but I think the revolutionary mindset of American inner cities is potential fertile ground for radical Islam.

  7. Toddy Cat says:

    Packer is a Calvinist, so that makes sense. Personally, I’m not, but if he led you to the Faith, who am I to criticize?

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