Saturday, April 5, 2014

2013 Statistical Report

This afternoon, the Church reported the following statistics as of December 31st, 2013.
  • Membership: 15,082,028 (increase of 299,555 from 2011; a 2.03% annual increase)
  • Congregations: 29,253 (increase of 239 from 2011; a 0.82% annual increase)
  • Stakes: 3,050 (increase of 45 from 2012; a 1.50% annual increase)
  • Districts: 571 (a decrease of 20 from 2012; a 3.38% annual decrease)
  • Convert Baptisms: 282,945 (increase of 10,615 from 2012; a 3.90% annual increase)
  • Increase of Children on Record: 115,486 (decrease of 6,787 from 2012; a 5.55% annual decrease)
  • Full-time missionaries: 83,035 (increase of 24,045 from 2012; a 40.8% annual increase)
  • Church service missionaries: 24,032 (increase of 1,071 from 2012; a 4.66% annual increase)
Aside from the massive jump in the number of full-time missionaries serving, there were few noteworthy developments in the 2013 statistical report. Congregational and membership growth rates were more commensurate than in many previous years, suggesting higher convert retention and member activity rates. The number of convert baptisms was disappointingly low compared to the number of missionaries serving. The average number of converts baptized per missionary dropped to a new all-time low of 3.4 converts baptized per missionary.

37 comments:

Michael Worley said...

Transition year; lots of energy spent towards the teansition, not the work. 2014 may well be amazing

Brandon Plewe said...

The convert baptism number is definitely disappointing. Transition is no excuse; the transition was done by July. It's not like missions and missionaries have been shell-shocked for the last 18 months.

It was all about Centers of Strength: the surge was directed to places where converts could best be supported (i.e., the U.S.), and missionaries could focus on retention and reactivation. If increasing baptisms was the primary goal, 70,000 of the 80,000 missionaries would be in Africa. My son in California has had 90% of his success as part of reactivation efforts.

Brandon Plewe said...

That said, it is encouraging that this is the highest number of convert baptisms since 2002, just before "raising the bar" dropped the number of missionaries by 20%.

Brandon Plewe said...

Matt, the baptisms per missionary is not the lowest ever, it is the lowest since 1959, before which the low 3's were typical. During and after the 1960-61 surge, 5-7 was typical.

Tom said...

It saddens me that 398,000 were baptized total membership increase was only 299,000. Where did the other 99,000 go?! That's not a whole lot less than our entire number of child-of-record baptisms.

The 2012-2013 difference between baptisms and overall membership increase was more like 55,000.

I can only conclude that either twice as many Mormons are dying, or twice as many Mormons are removing their names from record.

Very disappointing statistical report this year.

Tom said...

Oops I meant to say: "398,000 were baptized but total church membership increase was...."

Michael Worley said...

The transition was not done by July; The MTC was packed through September, and then training transfers for those elders and sisters lasted through December. That used a lot of resources

Good point about centers of strength.

to Tom: perhaps retention efforts helped clean up the membership rolls.

If I"m wrong, then, quite simply, this is a world that isn't accepting the message.

Michael Worley said...

The transition was not done by July; The MTC was packed through September, and then training transfers for those elders and sisters lasted through December. That used a lot of resources

Good point about centers of strength.

to Tom: perhaps retention efforts helped clean up the membership rolls.

If I"m wrong, then, quite simply, this is a world that isn't accepting the message.

Michael Worley said...

The transition was not done by July; The MTC was packed through September, and then training transfers for those elders and sisters lasted through December. That used a lot of resources

Good point about centers of strength.

to Tom: perhaps retention efforts helped clean up the membership rolls.

If I"m wrong, then, quite simply, this is a world that isn't accepting the message.

Adam said...

@ Brandon

I think the shell shock plays into it, just because the bulk of people didn't get into the field until probably June/July. That means most of the surge had only been in the field 6 months or so. Regardless, I was thinking the number would be higher as well. If we aren't around 330,000 next year it will be a letdown.

@Tom

I actually made some charts recently on that. It is interesting to see the flux from year to year. It wouldn't surprise me if the church did something the equivalent of how large corporations do "income smoothing," meaning you make great years look good and carry it over for when there is a "meh" year and make that one look better so you get more consistency. I always wonder if they may remove "lost" people more or less depending how the year went in other categories.

Here are the past couples years by doing the child baptisms+convert baptisms-membership increase over the past ten years, it doesn't look super consistent year to year.

2013 98,876
2012 53,476
2011 91,350
2010 86,729
2009 83,483
2008 74,585
2007 47,523
2006 59,114
2005 51,211
2004 49,541

It fluctuates a lot. It looks better if you do a 5-year average.

2013 82,783
2012 77,925
2011 76,734
2009 70,287
2008 63,183
2007 56,395
2006 57,213
2005 55,157
2004 50,629

The percentage increase of members was also at it's lowest in at least 33 years (that's as far back as I take anything) at just 2.03%.

The good news is that while membership isn't increasing as much, the numbers of units still is. In 2013 there were 9.56 new wards/branches created per new stake/district, which is higher than the 8.08 church average, meaning stakes and districts got much stronger last year (compared to 5.48 in 2012 and a measly 2.82 in 2011.)

I look forward to the day when all of Zion can turn to their stakes for protection, meaning that there are no longer districts. The Stakes to Districts ratio keeps getting higher and higher each year.

Grant Emery said...

http://youtu.be/I_lrit7nH2I
This shows the making of a video that will be shown at the Rome Temple Visitor Center. I can't see the actors super-well, but it looks like they are American and British actors from the Bible videos. I look forward to the day when we stop feeling like all videos have to be in English. In the recent Unto All the World videos on Europe, they had some French members speak in English. I think that it hinders growth in areas where Americanization is a social taboo. I understand that most members speak English as a primary or secondary language, but it can definitely feel alienating for those who always have to hear the less-genuine voive over. I'm all for following the Scandinavian (non-Church) trend of just doing things in native languages and having subtitles.

Michael Worley said...

http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/mormon-missionary-life

75,000 in August; that means the ranks swelled by 8,000 more in the rest of the year-- still a lot, meaning a lot of new areas were opened and a lot of training was going on.

Some missions aren't even using iPads yet.

Alex said...

One thing I noticed on my mission in Florida is that, for reasons I can't fully explain, when we started really implementing Preach My Gospel, there was actually a dip in convert baptisms. However, retention shot from 5% to 71% and stayed there. After a few months and once the principles clicked with enough of the members, baptisms then recovered in about a year (while keeping the high retention), then doubled in another 2 years. It almost feels like this is happening to the Church as a whole. The missions seem to have matured into Preach My Gospel (though even they have more they can do), and as soon as enough of the members fully buy into it, which will take a bit, convert baptisms will shoot up.

David Post said...

I found that running the numbers based on the children of baptism was much more telling. I'll have to look up if I still have the spreadsheet I used for it, but I calculated the mortality rate and birth rates and got to a similar number that there are only around 4.5 million active members. It's much harder for them to fudge the birth numbers than total membership.

Another thing to pay attention to is conversions of districts to stakes. We see a decrease in districts by 20, but there are 45 more stakes, most likely 20 of those new stakes are from districts being converted to stakes.

Another interesting aspect of analysis is members per congregation, which is now sitting at about 515 members per congregation, up from 509 in 2012,and 501 in 2011, and 493 from 2010, and 486 in 2009. So from these numbers we can see that the membership per congregation has risen from 486 to 515 in 5 years. Ideally there wouldn't be a trend of rising but each time they would split into smaller units and there would be more congregations as a result.

Many congregations share the same building, so it isn't for lack of places to put people, a meeting house can fit 5 wards a little uncomfortably, and with that many people with these statistics that would be 2500 people, there should be no trouble in getting another building.

If we take the activity rate to be around 30% suddenly these numbers become much different. Now we have a much more realistic growth of 145 to 154 over the same time span which would seem to reflect actual numbers in wards.

Ray said...

David,

Thanks for your analysis. I appreciate all the good points you made.

I have a couple of observations about your comments. First, the reduction in children of record, as reflected by the number of infants blessed, is a reflection on the weak worldwide economy. Young people marry and start their families later because of the hardships they perceive in raising children with diminished and less secure income.

Also, I count only about 10 of the 20 fewer districts in 2013 as being converted to stakes. Some of the others were consolidated with a nearby stake or other district, and still others ceased to function because so many of the members migrated to more urban areas in search of employment.

There's also a big disparity in the increase/decrease in wards and branches. I showed 312 more wards in 2013 (with higher average membership than branches), with over 60 fewer branches, since many branches matured to wards or were consolidated with nearby wards.

And then there are "groups" numbering in the hundreds that are new congregations with too few members to qualify as bona fide branches but which are not included in the total number of congregations.

I'd also like to learn more about the death rates of members of the Church. At one time a poster to this blog estimated around 111,000 deaths per year ( a few years ago when the Church membership was 13.8 million), which would indicate around 120,000 today.

However, when annual death rates were reported by the Church many years ago the rate was around 4.5% which would result in only 60,000 to 75,000 deaths per year. I think this is due to the greater longevity of Church members (thank you, word of wisdom!) and the higher birthrate overall, which skews the age distribution in favor of the young.

There are so many factors that play into the final totals. It's very interesting to hear views of all posters to this blog because everyone has a good contribution to make.

Al Christensen said...

The church used to report both the number of children blessed and the number of children baptized. It was interesting to compare the first number with the number of children blessed 8 years later. The second number was always lower, and the gap was widening. That meant fewer and fewer parents cared about getting their kids baptized, most likely because they were inactive or no longer identified as Mormons.

The graph of the number of new children added to the church has been essentially a flat line for decades, despite the total membership. Some of that is due to people having smaller families. But part of it is due to people leaving the church and taking their kids with them.

What percentage of baptisms is from the relatively low hanging fruit of over-8 children of inactive or newly reactivated parents rather than people who previously had nothing to do with the LDS church? Considering that the only missionary work being done in many areas is reactivation (because no one else will listen), I'd guess a good chunk of them.

The percentage of members serving missions had been declining steadily (until the statistical blip from dropping the missionary age), despite all-time high percentages of senior missionaries and sisters. They've broadened the pool, but a greater percentage is saying, "No thanks."

But, really, the only number that counts is the percentage growth of total claimed membership (active or not) versus the percentage growth of global population. The rest is just internal number fiddling. Success stories in some parts of the planet are offset by decline in others. The stone is not rolling forth. It's just rattling around in the bucket.

Adam said...

Gosh, I'd hardly call it rattling around in a bucket. I bet if you were to ask Joseph Smith in the 1830's how he would feel if in 2013 over 400,000 people each year were coming into the church he would say "I'll take it." Just because the growth isn't exponential doesn't mean it is rattling around in a bucket and that the church is eventually doomed to fail.

New children added to the church on five year averages has continued to increase until just this year, but you can bet it will continue to climb once all the sister's returning from missions get married. The numbers below hardly show stagnancy.

2013 119,585
2012 121,188
2011 115,473
2010 110,291
2009 104,816
2008 100,645
2007 95,836
2006 93,323
2005 88,426
2004 86,086
2003 83,136
2002 78,610

The biggest reason the number has peaked has hardly been because of people leaving the church, but moreso the fertility rates around the world, especially in Latin America. They are now only averaging 2.2 births per woman in Mexico, which is only slightly higher than the US.

Another good stat to look it is seminary enrollment, it has increased 10% over the past 4 years. If you think that the percentage of missionaries serving has decreased, just look at the graphs here http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865578896/LDS-seminary-enrollment-reaches-all-time-high.html?pg=all and you'll see that the decrease went right along with the number of youth in the church. I bet if you did a comparison between seminary and missions it would be very consistent. People just didn't have a lot of kids in the late 80's/early 90's.

Brooks M. Wilson said...

@ Adam
Where did you get the number for child baptisms? I would love to have it. The smoothing was a nice touch.

The number reported at conference was new children of record. I believe that is children of members added to the rolls of the church. At age nine, most are baptized and become members. Those who are not, are dropped as children of record. I do not believe that the Church counts children of record as members.

I hope someone will correct me if I am wrong.

Adam said...

Oh my bad, they are new child of record, sorry for not putting that in correctly. You have it right.

And just on another point as well on child converts, even if some of the new converts are the 9-10 year olds from less-active families, they usually only get baptized if their parents are reactivated. I got a lot of those in the Philippines but we never really focused on the children, we always focused on the family because they would really be the deciding factor on if they continue to progress. Often got a 5 for 1, meaning around 5 people reactivated per child convert.

Brooks M. Wilson said...

@ Adam and Al

I usually don't reference my blog, Blu Principles," because I am not commenting to gain readers, but in this case I will because I have done work directly related to the current topic. If you are wondering, this blog is better but we cover some of the same topics in a different way.

I believe that Adam is correct about increasing both seminary attendance and the impact of falling fertility rates. The Church converts the young, and in most places in the world, the number of young is declining both as a percentage of the population and absolutely.

Western democracies may be facing a demographic crises along with former communist countries. They simply don't produce enough children to replace aging workers or fund government programs. I am not sure how declining population will affect economic growth. Some economist believe that wealth will increase as resources constraints weaken. Others note that innovation is generally a product of the young.



Ray said...

Matt,

Thanks for the information on and analysis of the 2013 Church statistical report.

I wanted to make a comment on the converts-per-missionary figure you used and that is I believe it is closer to 4 instead of 3.4 because you used the year-end total of missionaries serving and divided it into the total convert baptisms.

Instead, I think it would be more accurate to use the average for the year. 2013 started with just 58,990 missionaries and ended at 83,035, so the average for the year is closer to 70,000, which would give a converts-per-missionary number of just over 4 converts per missionary instead of 3.4.

Brandon Plewe said...

@Ray, that is a good point. Of course, if you do that consistently, then the numbers for previous years would go up as well, but not by as much:
2000: 4.5->4.6
2001: 4.8->4.8
2002: 4.6->4.6
2003: 4.3->4.1 (because the # of missionaries dropped)
2004: 4.7->4.5
2005: 4.7->4.7
2006: 5.1->5.2
2007: 5.3->5.3
2008: 5.1->5.1
2009: 5.4->5.4
2010: 5.2->5.2
2011: 5.1->5.2
2012: 4.6->4.8
2013: 3.4->4

Interesting; it does make the numbers more consistent, but the low number still really sticks out.

Brandon Plewe said...

BTW, Ray's fix largely takes care of the concern of Michael and others about the transitional nature of the year. It's still the lowest since 1959.

Ray said...

Matt,

A couple of other small points about the Statistical Report.

The reported number of stakes was 3050, which means that the last stake of 2013, created in Dec. 2013 but not appearing in the CDOL until 2014 should be included in your 2014 lineup of new stakes.

The reported number of wards and branches was 29,253, while the yearend total on the CDOL was only 29,162, and the number of districts was 571 vs. 560 on the CDOL. So there are 91 apparently unreported congregations (all branches, presumably), as well as 11 missing districts in the yearend public report.

Matt said...

Ray - this discrepancy is due to the non-reporting of sensitive units on CDOL reports accessible to ordinary members.

Mike Johnson said...

>>>The number reported at conference was new children of record. I believe that is children of members added to the rolls of the church. At age nine, most are baptized and become members. Those who are not, are dropped as children of record. I do not believe that the Church counts children of record as members.

They don't drop off being children of record until they are 19 (if not baptized).

Mike Johnson said...

I think the decrease in convert baptisms per missionary is not unexpected. Yes, taking the average number each year probably gives a better estimate than simply the number serving at the end of the year.

I do think transition is important and that it wasn't over in July. New missions were created in July, but that didn't end the transition. Since July, we have observed some chaos. My ward in the last 6 months (4 transfers) has twice been completely washed of missionaries as our mission has had a net increase of about 30 missionaries per transfer. This has resulted in missionaries becoming senior companions earlier than normal. I remember our mission president explaining not long ago that over 70% of his missionaries were either training or in training, a number closer to 20% in normal times.

Second, most wards/branches now have 2 sets of missionaries and some have 3. While I think it is possible for a ward working with 2 sets of missionaries to be twice as effective or more than the same ward working with one set. But, my experience is that 2 sets of missionaries in a ward doesn't double the work as the ward becomes spread thinner helping both. That said, the spirit of missionary work might catch on and end up doing more with more missionaries in the ward.

In our ward, called upon to supply more people for missionaries to teach have responded in providing inactives and our missionaries, while continuing to teach investigators appear, from my vantage point.

Now, I had expected growing pains to be compensated by the substantial increase in sisters--which have generally been more effective (in my experience) than elders on average.

Of course, as I pointed out here over a year ago, the real benefit of the surge in missionaries is that more missionaries (in particular more sisters) will serve missions and that the Church will be straightened because of that for decades to come.

Adam said...
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Adam said...
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Adam said...

Just kind of thinking about some of the things that we've talked about, I found that I and a lot of others have probably been focusing too much on the baptisms per missionary stat too much. I think the days of thinking that the missionaries themselves are responsible for the number of baptisms for the church is largely overrated. If we've learned anything the past year from the hasten the work initiative, it should be that the members should be just as responsible for baptisms, probably even moreso than the missionaries. I served in an area were tracting was still efficient, but we still got most of our baptisms off member referrals. Most areas around the world get a much larger % of their convert baptisms from referrals than mine. My guess is that in most countries there wouldn't be an increase in referrals from a ward that had 6 missionaries instead of 2. If we can agree that wards and branches have a much bigger effect on convert baptisms than the missionaries themselves, let's instead look at this stat of convert baptisms per unit in the church and analyze it that way.

Since I feel (just from people I've talked to) that quality of baptisms was not as heavily stressed until after the bar was raised and with the introduction of PMG, let's take a look at the past ten years of convert baptisms per unit on five year averages(labeled Converts.) I also threw on the 5 year average of child of record (COR) and the combined (showing increase in unit per year) just to look at.

Year Converts COR Combined
2013 9.50 4.09 13.59
2012 9.46 4.18 13.64
2011 9.58 4.01 13.59
2010 9.56 3.85 13.41
2009 9.43 3.69 13.12
2008 9.26 3.58 12.84
2007 9.19 3.44 12.64
2006 9.34 3.40 12.74
2005 9.62 3.26 12.89
2004 10.00 3.23 13.23

(Sorry the spacing is weird, it won't let me do multiple spaces or tabs)

When we look at it this way it helps to show that things really have been pretty steady the past decade, even improving. I know some may thing I have to really twist the stats to show growth, but I think these are good indicators as well.

Ray said...

Adam,

This is an excellent analysis! It's great to have all the numbers "smoothed" to show long-term trends and to get a clearer perspective on the growth of the Church.

John Pack Lambert said...

Calculating the number of converts per missionary based on the number of missionaries serving at the end of the year, for a year when the number of missionaries was steadily rising, is counter-intuitive. Probably a better figure would be to use an average of the year-beginning and year end figures, although even that would not fully work.

John Pack Lambert said...

Thinking about it, there is a third major way that people vanish from church membership records. While based on things said by Elder Marlin K. Jensen and others I have the impression that the rate of people removing themselves from the records of the church has increased of late, and there is the related but different process of excommunication, those are probably not the biggest way people vanish from records. The biggest vanishing may well be people who were children of record not getting baptized at age 8 and thus no longer being on church records.

Of course, the death rate is probably somewhere in the range of 1 percent. That would suggest that on average about 150,000 Latter-day Saints die a year. Hmm, I think I overestimated the death rate, but that tells me a large portion of the discrepancy could well be deaths.

John Pack Lambert said...

One cause of increasing members per unit may be an increasing percentage of wards, and wards on average have more members.

Another issue we can't figure is the number of groups. Groups get reported as parts of other wards or branches, and no one seems to have any clue how many groups there are. There might not be enough to make a difference, but then again, there might be.

John Pack Lambert said...

Another thing that skewes towards the young, is that in general, converts are more often younger than the population at large.

Utah is the youngest state in the US by a large margin, mainly due to larger families. I'm not sure we grasp what the age structure of the Church looks like in Britain, Brazil or Ghana.

John Pack Lambert said...

I am 90% sure that at some point in the 1980s the Church changed how it accounts for children, and now no unbaptized person age 9 or above appears on official church lists. Actually it might have been sometime in the 1990s this change was made.

John Pack Lambert said...

In many ways the number of people getting baptized is not the most important figure. The number of people getting endowed in the temple would actually be more useful in many ways. My ward has had an increase of baptisms in the last year. However more encouraging has been one couple getting sealed in the temple, and multiple brethren being ordained to the Melchezidek priesthood.

We also had two children blessed last week. They were eleven months old. Their father has been a member a long time, but their mother was baptized only about 2 months ago. They were actually born in India, which their parents only left last November.