Membership Statistics Overview
Since at least the 1840s, the LDS church has presented figures to the public which do not accurately portray the number of active members. In 1844, at Joseph’s death, the official newspaper claimed a membership of “not less than 200,000”. Modern LDS sources list the figure at about 26,000.
Growth in the early church was generally positive, though very sporadic. There was negative growth during the final years of the 1850s, probably as the result of the Reformation of 1856 to 1857. During this event, members were asked to answer a number of questions regarding their beliefs and in some places the membership rolls were purged of less-committed members, including those who refused to be re-baptized into the movement. Polygamy was at its peak and women were routinely married at ages of between about 14-16 during these years.
In more recent times, the membership has been estimated to be above 16 Million by LDS leaders (2018). The estimated active membership is about 5 million, with an activity rate of roughly 30%-35%. Activity rates vary widely by geographical location, as well as based on age, sex, etc. There are more active females than males, with the radio being 60/40 or higher in certain age groups and locations.
The LDS church defines the following as members:
- Children age 0-9 that have been given a blessing in church.
- Everyone who is baptized into the church, until they are 110 years of age unless they are recorded as dying
In 2014, a presentation was given by church insiders which provided the following information which may or may not be correct. According to the source:
- 48% Percent of Mormons lived in US or Canada
- 37% Lived in Mexico, Central, or South America
- 3% in Europe
- 3% in Africa
- 3% in Oceana
- 7% in Asia
Another chart indicated:
- 42% Adult Female
- 35% Adult Male
- 13% in Primary (age 1-12)
- 10% are youth (12-18)
- 36% Attend sacrament meeting weekly (activity rate?)
- 5% can’t read or write
- 21% live in countries with less than $9,200 per person GDP.
- 48% joined the church after 1995.
The 5-year averaged growth in 2017 was the lowest since 1859. Based on extrapolation, it is predicted that the LDS church will continue to experience positive growth through at least about 2026.
Cumorah.com tracks both official membership figures and the growth (and decline) in units which gives a better indication of actual growth/decline.
Comparing the Geographic Distributions and Growth of Mormons, Adventists, and Witnesses by RONALD LAWSON and RYAN T. CRAGUN
The Secular Transition: The Worldwide Growth of Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Seventh-day Adventists by RYAN T. CRAGUN and RONALD LAWSON. Published in 2010, the authors suggest a slowing of growth for these movements due in part to a secularization of western societies.
One prediction showing the overall membership peaking around 30 million. The data is a little old, but the model seems to have merit. Based on more recent data, this model would end up having a lower peak membership value of perhaps 25 million.
America’s Changing Religious Landscape – Pew Research, 2015. Based on surveys done in 2007 and 2014, this study show demographic shifts in various religions in the US.
Changing Global Religious Landscape – Pew Research, 2017, Full Report (PDF).
U.S. religious groups and their political leanings – Pew Research, 2016. Mormons are the most Republican leaning denomination in the US.
Most U.S. Christian groups grow more accepting of homosexuality – Pew Research, 2015. Shows that between 2007 and 2014, the number of Mormons saying that homosexuals should be accepted by society increased from 24 to 36%. Mormons remain one of the religions with the lowest acceptance levels of homosexuals (tied with Evangelical Protestants).
Mormons more likely to marry, have more children than other U.S. religious groups – Pew Research, 2015
 See Times and Seasons Vol 5 #13 under “communications”. http://contentdm.lib.byu.edu/cdm/ref/collection/NCMP1820-1846/id/8375
 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Church_of_Jesus_Christ_of_Latter-day_Saints_membership_history Note: Quinn lists the number as being less than 26,000.
 Graph is based on data taken from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Church_of_Jesus_Christ_of_Latter-day_Saints_membership_history