Will membership in the LDS church decline YoY in any year between now and 2030
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2031
35%
chance
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Someone on r/exmormon said "I will bet a year's salary the year they show a YoY decline, they will stop reporting on member numbers and replace it with unit growth." (source) So I created /HankyUSA/will-the-lds-mormon-church-publicly

Oh gosh, as an ex-Mormon, I am hesitant to bet on this due to the way the LDS church actually counts their members (e.g. continuing to count people as members even if no one has seen them for decades until they they would turn 110 years old—because they assume death at that point).

Is the year 2030 included?

@jacob yes

I shared this question on r/exmormon (here) and they gave me the idea to create the same question but for the number of congregations.

/HankyUSA/will-the-number-of-wards-and-branch

Membership records started to rocket in late 70s / early 80s, so 2030 will have been 50 years since era of material growth. IDK exact portion, but I imagine much of this growth was converts.

I suspect that the church will begin to experience the member fallout of 'high-growth-era-converts' dying in the next 10-20 years. Baby boomers - a massive population block - are beginning to die now, and will continue the trend till ~2040. There could be an overhang of converts that were ~30-50 years old when they joined in ~1980 (who would now be between 80-100 years old) increasingly dying in the next 5 years.

Additionally, much of church membership is inactive, particularly in foreign nations. Tracking deaths of such inactive members would be challenging, so I assume the church uses age-based assumptions (e.g., once someone is 100 years old with no record of death, removed from church records).

I think it's possible that there is an overhang of 'very old inactive members' (many of which are dead) who the church will start to strike from their records in the next 5-20 years, e.g. if an inactive member is supposed to be 105 years old, the church might just assume they're dead. By 2030, this proxy standard would apply to all 1980 converts who were over 55 - seems plausible we would begin to experience this statistical shift in next 5-10 years.

None of this impacts my bets that much, but curious if anyone has thoughts @AmmonLam, @JeffreyHeninger

@CarsonGale I very much agree with your analysis. If your market is about whether decline will happen by 2040, I would price it closer to 70%

I just think 2030 doesnt give enough time for the member fallout to reflect in the numbers, according to how the church were counting them in the past.

I suspect that if a person stopped attending but report nothing else to church, the church would keep these people in the membership even till they are at age 120 (I have no evidence backing this suspicion) If in the next 5 years, the church made a decision to stop counting anyone above age 100 I could see the growth dropping into negative due to change in accounting rule.

@CarsonGale would you like to make a market for negative growth before 2040?

opened a Ṁ1,000 NO at 40% order

@CarsonGale @HankyUSA Interested in trading some large limit orders with me?

@AmmonLam After giving it more thought, I regret the bets I already made.

@AmmonLam not at 40%...how about 25%?

opened a Ṁ250 YES at 30% order

I just left a limit at 30%

bought Ṁ100 NO

@CarsonGale limit order taken =)

boughtṀ100NO

Me: Will membership in LDS church decline?
@AmmonLam: Not if I have anything to do with it [proceeds to cut off arms at scale, missionary-style, baptizes 100% of Manifold users]

@CarsonGale less than 1% of manifold users would get your joke

@AmmonLam but you did, and that makes it all worth it!

bought Ṁ250 NO

This seems very high. I'm guessing the reason is some combination of (1) people confusing average church attendance with the official number of members and (2) manifold being much less religious than the population as a whole.

The main factors driving changes in membership are births (~100k/yr), deaths (~100k/yr), and convert baptisms (~200k/yr). Resignations / excommunications are likely negligible because (1) these require effort, so most people who leave the church won't bother, and (2) the Salt Lake Tribune reports "mass resignations" as involving O(1k) people, which is not enough to significantly change the numbers.

COVID was really bad for LDS membership numbers. The number of baptisms fell by 1/2, the number of recorded births fell by 1/3 (probably mostly because fewer people were in contact with the church, so their children's births weren't recorded), and the number of deaths increased. In 2022, the numbers returned to close to their pre-COVID levels, so the COVID data doesn't represent a "new normal." The 2023 statistical report will likely be released at the beginning of April.

LDS church membership continued to grow through 2020 and 2021. This market is asking whether there will be something worse than COVID for the LDS church before 2030. Seems unlikely.

I don't think that long term trends will cause membership to decline by 2030. It's not clear what the long term trends are - the history of the number of baptisms since 2000 is dominated by short term changes like Raising the Bar, Preach My Gospel, the Age Change / Surge, and COVID. Also, long term trends are long term, and 2030 might not be far enough away for their effects to be dominant.

predicts YES

If membership in the LDS church decline YoY, I'm not confident the LDS Church would willingly make that public knowledge. What source will you use to resolve this?

predicts NO

@LukeHanks Good question, and I can't answer for @CarsonGale, of course. The church does put out annual (or is it twice a year?) membership reports. (i.e., https://newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org/article/2021-statistical-report-april-2022-conference) Wikipedia has been citing these, as in the link in the description. I can't imagine there's a source other than from the church itself that could estimate their worldwide membership, especially with reasonable accuracy. A worldwide religion poll would probably be useful to verify their general accuracy, but I doubt whether those are generated or published yearly.

predicts NO

For example, the Pew Research Center reports that their 2022 findings of % Mormons in America had a 12% error margin, due to small sample size (196 out of 10188 surveyed). https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2022/08/08/why-pew-research-center-typically-cant-report-the-views-of-smaller-u-s-religious-groups/ It's probably much harder to survey smaller religions over the entire world.

predicts NO

For positive resolution, i would need good reason to believe membership had dropped YoY. Ideally that would come directly from the church, but if they stop providing data I'm open to relying on next best estimates. I would personally only spend time figuring that out if the Church data stops coming.

Will membership in the LDS church decline YoY in any year between now and 2030, 8k, beautiful, illustration, trending on art station, picture of the day, epic composition

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