Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Country-by-Country Membership Statistics Released for 2021

The Church has released year-end 2021 membership and congregation totals for most nations with a reported Church presence. These statistics can be accessed on Church's official website at https://newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org/facts-and-statistics. Only Samoa and the United States Virgin Islands were omitted from the analysis below because there is a current error on the Church's Newsroom site that prevents access to these data.

Unlike previous years when I have provided this list, I am unable to provide the annual membership growth rate for the year 2021 for each country with published membership data. This is because the Church did not publish year-end 2020 membership data due to the COVID-19 pandemic's impact on the accuracy of membership data. Consequently, membership growth rates presented below represent the two-year period from year-end 2019 to year-end 2021 (interesting fact: prior to 1999, the Church used to only release country-by-country membership data biennially). Countries with the highest biennial membership growth rates for 2020-2021 (10% or greater) are listed below. Lists for nations with the most rapid annual membership growth rates are also available for 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019. The percentage next to the country name is the biennial growth rate percentage, which is followed by the country's membership at year-end 2021. Countries in bold experienced a biennial membership increase greater than 400 during 2020-2021 (I usually do an annual membership increase of 200 so this way it provides more of an apples-to-apples comparison to prior years. However, I did not think it would be accurate to divide the biennial membership growth rate in half to get the annual membership growth rate as this would assume the growth rate was constant for both 2020 and 2021, and this is obviously incorrect given the global membership totals reported by the Church in its annual statistical reports).

  1. Democratic Republic of the Congo - 29.4% - 89,136
  2. Tanzania - 28.8% - 2,309
  3. Liberia - 22.6% - 17,823
  4. Angola - 19.2% - 4,160
  5. Benin - 18.6% - 4,765
  6. Republic of the Congo - 15.8% - 9,892
  7. Malawi - 14.9% - 3,612
  8. Sierra Leone - 14.6% - 26,108
  9. Papua New Guinea - 13.7% - 35,033
  10. Tuvalu - 13.2% - 335
  11. Togo - 12.7% - 5,997
  12. Turkey - 11.9% - 573
  13. Rwanda - 11.7% - 843
  14. Iceland - 10.3% - 331

The following is a list of the top ten countries with the highest negative growth rates (i.e., fastest rate of membership decline) during the biennial period of 2020-2021. The percent growth rate is provided next to the country name, and the number to the right of the percentage growth rate is the year-end 2021 membership total for the country. Only France (-1,730) and Reunion (-117) experienced a net decline of 100 or more members during the biennial period of 2020-2021 among these ten countries with the greatest percentage decrease in membership.

  1. Montenegro - -16.7% - 30
  2. Reunion (Department of France) - -12.2% - 841
  3. Kazakhstan - -10.9% - 205
  4. Grenada - -9.59% - 396
  5. Bosnia and Herzegovina - -8.22% - 67
  6. Guernsey (part of the United Kingdom) - -8.06% - 57
  7. Saint Kitts and Nevis - -7.83% - 212
  8. Bahrain - -6.94% - 228
  9. France - -4.33% - 38,200
  10. Sint Maarten - -3.70% - 286

Below is a list of the top ten countries by numerical membership increase for the biennial period of 2020-2021. Each country is provided with the numerical national increase in membership for this two-year period. Additionally, the percentage of total church membership increase is provided for each country. Lists are also available for 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019. 72.8% of the 2020-2021 net increase in Church membership can be attributed to the following 10 nations.

  1. United States - 41,987 - 17.5%
  2. Philippines - 27,836 - 11.6%
  3. Brazil - 26,303 - 10.9%
  4. Democratic Republic of the Congo - 20,265- 8.4% 
  5. Nigeria - 19,075 - 7.9%
  6. Mexico - 16,766 - 7.0%
  7. Ghana - 7,373 - 3.1%
  8. Peru - 5,524 - 2.3%
  9. Bolivia - 5,183 - 2.2%
  10. Venezuela - 4,586 - 1.9%

Below is a list of the top ten countries by numerical membership decrease for the biennial period of 2020-2021. Each country is provided with the numerical national decrease in membership for this two-year period. Coincidentally, there were ten countries where membership experienced a net decreased by 100 or more during 2020-2021.

  1. France - -1,730
  2. United Kingdom - -1,378
  3. Germany - -268
  4. Uruguay - -248
  5. Hong Kong - -224
  6. Federated States of Micronesia - -200
  7. Malaysia - -126
  8. Sweden - -121
  9. Reunion - -117
  10. Belgium - -106 

The most significant developments with membership growth trends by country during the past two years have been the rapid acceleration of membership growth in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (a country where only 0.53% of total Church membership is located but where 8.4% of total membership growth during the past two years has occurred), the significant slowdown in membership growth in the countries with the most Church-reported members (like the United States, Mexico, Brazil, the Philippines, Peru, and Chile), and stagnant membership growth or a decline in the number of Church members in many countries with few (less than 10,000) members (excluding Sub-Saharan Africa). The trend for many, if not most, countries in the Church during the past two years has been similar to the Church's global membership growth rate in that the growth rate for the two-year period is comparable to what the annual growth rate was prior to 2020, or that it has decreased by approximately 50% from normal. This decline appears primarily attributed to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on missionary work and Church operations in nearly all countries of the world.


Pascal Friedmann said...

I reckon that all the members that were lost in France moved to Iceland.

Jokes aside, both of these numbers are surprising in their own right. The situation in France may very well be related to a data cleanup. For quite a few years prior, growth rates seemed higher than would be expected, so my guess is that finally someone took a closer look at who may have died and removed those records.

On the Icelanding side, member growth of more than 10 on average across the three branches is quite impressive. I wonder how much of this is from Akureyri, where the Church is still relatively new.

Nothing else is really surprising. I'm very happy to see growth in the DR Congo and it will probably only accelerate as more cities are reached. The DRC may very well be the "country of the decade" when it comes to Church growth. One key to that will be to get local young men and women to serve missions, similar to what has happened in Nigeria and Ivory Coast with a lot of success.

The decay of the Church in the Balkans is not surprising but still discouraging. My understanding is that there are quite a few members who have left the area.

Eduardo said...

I am guessing that a good number of Micronesians left those islands for reasons of work abroad. However, Oceania nations by and large have a positive growth rate lately, from what I observe.

I was able to attend church with a Micronesian this past year, which was a privilege and a pleasure. I wonder if guys like him are part of the trend of less numbers in those Federated States.

I wonder if some Icelanders recognize their ties to Spanish Fork and places like that, strong in the faith.

It will be a beautiful time when that island has a temple.

Farther hopes for Greenland, or Newfoundland.

Cody Quirk said...

The situation with the church in those European/Eurasian countries doesn't surprise me; even in those nations with laws that are somewhat friendly to religious liberty -the current cultures, the spread of secularism, and the growing xenophobia against anything Pro-West -are significant stumbling blocks for the church and any evangelical or non-trinitarian denomination that tries to do missionary work in those regions.
It is what it is, and I don't see it getting better for quite a long time. 🤷👎

John Pack Lambert said...

Micronesia may be suffering from the effects of total lockdown excluding missionaries for a good part of this time and local missionaries not being able to make up for it.

At the end of 2021 there were lots of places where Covid was very much disrupting things.

Ty Palmer said...

I wonder if the largest decreases in France/UK/Germany are in part due to military personnel fluctuations. As the membership clerk here in southeast Virginia, it's practically a full time job trying to keep up with the records coming in and out of the ward due to us being surrounded by several large bases. In the last 6 weeks, I've moved out the records of over 100 households.

Сњешко said...

As someone who has experience and knowledge about the situations in Bosnia and in Montenegro, I can attest that the number of members hasn't actually decreased all that significantly. What happened was quite a few members from the US in both countries lived there temporarily for work and then when all the covid stuff happened they were replaced mostly with non-member employees. The end result was at first a false ballooning of membership numbers and now we are seeing the deflation of that balloon to a little bit more accurate showing. It should also be noted that I'm pretty sure the number of missionaries in each country are counted and the number of missionaries in bosnia has been slashed from 14 to 6 since the start of Covid. This might not sound like much but it has a significant effect on the numbers for Bosnia itself. There has not been a reduction of missionaries in the Adriatic North, but rather just a refocusing on Croatia and Serbia which tend to have stronger member populations than Bosnia and Montenegro.

James said...

You could split growth rates in 2020 and 2021 based on relative total increases in baptisms church-wide in 2020 and 2021. Seems like that would be better than 50/50 split or just looking at two-year growth...

On a similar note, to what extent can you capture membership movement between countries as an isolated factor relative to members leaving/dying/being baptized?

For example, can you take estimates from actual migration from Venezuela to neighboring countries to estimate the out-migration of membership from Venezuela to Peru/Bolivia/Brazil/etc.? If so, it would better inform to what extent growth in Peru (for example) is organic vs. derived from people moving around. You could do the same with California and Utah. The assumption being made would be that members on average tend to make similar decisions as the general populace when it comes to moving from place to place.

Also, do you see a strong correlation in the magnitude in decline in growth rate and COVID deaths or restrictions? That might help you isolate those factors on a country-by-country basis. I'm not sure how effective multivariate regressions would be here, but it seems like a worthy endeavor.

John Pack Lambert said...

My guess is these numbers do not count missionaries in the place they are serving. They are counted in their home congregations.

However the numbers are total members, they are not limited to nationals. So if you have large numbers of expatriate members and then those numbers go up or down this could effect numbers.

Of course, as mentioned record changes do not always reflect when things happen. I have seen cases where record clean up did not remove the dead until a few years after death. On the other hand I also once knew someone whose church record already said he was dead, but he was still alive.

So oddly enough you could have a successful campaign that leads to more active members that also reduces your total number of members on the records.

Jim Anderson said...

Sometimes the mistake of marking someone as dead who is actually living turns up when they are found in Family Tree, happens more often than you think, and FamilySearch, when told of this, fixes it fairly quickly on their end.

wonderingstar said...

Where are you getting your African membership numbers - DRC, Tanzania, Liberia etc are not the same numbers I see when I go to the link you provided.

Matt said...

wonderingstar - the numbers for 2021 keep appearing and re-appearing on the Headquarters USA Newsroom site. Try another country site, like for the Philippines - that one in particular has been less glitchy.

David Todd said...

I find the growth in Tanzania to be very promising. This is a mostly unreached country with huge potential. It seems like the new mission is helping provide resources for outreach as the growth percentage has significantly increased. Also I just saw that two new branches were opened in Arusha in March.

I imagine within a few decades, Dar Es Salaam will be a strong center for the church in East Africa, will numerous stakes and possibly even a temple.

We have already seen promising growth in Mozambique and Rwanda. Eastern Africa is expected to grow in population significantly over the next 30-50 years and it will be very beneficial for the church to have strong roots in this region ASAP.

David Todd said...

Oh and Malawi as well, of course.

Yamil Inosotroza said...

Why don't we have available data from Pakistan? I read it's not a "sensitive" country anymore.

John Pack Lambert said...

Tanzania has I believe about 55 million people. That is bigger than the population of California by almost the population of New York.

I am very hopeful there will be at least 1 stake in Tanzania by 2030. I am actually hopeful sooner than that.

Johnathan Reese Whiting said...

It's interesting to see an increase in membership in Venezuela, when so many are fleeing the country. I wonder if the adversity and instability there are bringing people to seek the comfort of the Gospel?

Does anyone here have more familiarity with the situation in Venezuela?

Shelama said...

As the "Gospel Topics Essays" become generally public and known around the world, and easily available to investigators -- as also things like the "CES Letter" and Mormon Stories Podcast, etc, etc, etc -- one can predict with high confidence a nagative impact on the growth rate of the Mormon church. Both in terms of new convert baptisms and also new 'children of record.'

As also in reignatioms. Plus, as much or more than anything, a negative impact on the activity level, among both older long-term members as well as recent converts.

We can reasonably hope and maybe even guess that all the new Mormon temples -- being built at a much higher rate than new membership and temple-recommend growth -- might have a positive impact on retention and activity and maybe even on baptisms.

Shelama said...

The future of the Mormon church and GA's is pretty clearly in Black Africa and the more impoverished and developing world. In 100 years, the president and half the 12 will be Black. Which should be welcomed and recognized as the positive good that it is, of course.

One caveat, though — wherever the internet might currently lag, that is rapidly changing and wiill quickly catch up, with predictable negative consequences. That some already-believing Mormons with a long-standing testimony find the "Essays" to be helpful for their faith and testimony, it is entirely reasonable and sensible and predictable that many people would see just exactly the opposite, and conclude against the standard Mormon narrative and truth claims.

Hank said...

@Shelama, don't mean to be rude, but I would really appreciate it if you called us by our real name.

John Pack Lambert said...

At this point it is the person who has doubled down on refusing to speak the name of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who is being rude.

TrustThePlotHole said...

What would be more intriguing to see is numbers showing increases/decreases in church attendance. Numbers that show increases/decreases in membership status are not representative of believing, practicing members.

From my experience spending almost two decades as a Ward Clerk or Executive Secretary, most wards even in the heart of Utah have less than 50% attendance.