On a recent post, Kristine was wondering about the number of Mormon women who work*. To do this it is common to use Utah and ignore the fact that Utah is not totally Mormon. If we look at the census, 58% of women in Utah work but only 54% work nationwide. So a higher percentage of Utahn women work than the national average. Unfortunately this is not a very “apples-to-apples” comparison. Utah is more white and has a different age distribution than the nation as a whole. So now compare white women between the age 20 and 30. Utah is identical to the national average with 71% working.
Next, let’s concentrate on mothers. In addition to race and age, only look at women who are married and have children under the age of 5. Utah= 51%, National=54.5%, so Utah’s mothers show a small tendency to less work when young children are around.
Let’s now just look at those mothers who at least have a high school education: Utah= 52% (about the same as for the less educated) but the national number climbs to 58.5%. If we use just those mothers with children 1 or 2 years old and redo the exercise, we get Utah=50%, National=57%, which is slightly lower for both, but the gap remains about 7 percentage points.
Not all work is the same, so look at those with children under 5 working more than 20 hours: Utah=34%, National 48%, a 14 point gap.
Alternatively, look at mothers working away from home: Utah 43%, National=52%, a 9 point gap.
Not all of Utah is Mormon. For example, if half of Utah is active Mormons then, if we assume that the nonmembers looked like the national average, all the above gaps should be doubled to get the “Mormon gap”. But this is a rather strong assumption.
One imperfect way to get at Mormonism is to restrict the sample to a particularly Mormon place, such as Provo-Orem and the surrounding towns. Keep the sample restrictions used before such as young, married, white, women with at least a high school degree and a child younger than 5 at home, then look at the number of mothers working away from home: Provo=36%, 16 points below the national average (approximately doubling the gap found for Utah in general, as out previous assumption predicted). Thus Provo mothers work away from home at about 2/3 the national average. Of course, many of those mothers at home are working, but only at home, presumably in an attempt to stay close to their young. These are probably the piano teachers, day care providers and others who do some work to help make ends meet.
Lastly, go back to Utah and look at white young mothers with a college degree: Utah=52% (same as for the less educated Utahns), National=67%(!). A 15 point gap, driven entirely by the high work rate of the non-Utah highly educated mothers. Looking at mothers employed full time among the college educated, we get Utah=31%(!), and National=56%, so that the full-time national average is twice the Utah average.
Conclusion: In apples to apples comparisons, Utah mothers appear to work less than the national average, after controlling for demographic differences. Also, Utah women work less outside the home and avoid full time work. The difference gets very big when looking at the well-educated or at places in Utah , such as Provo-Orem, which are very LDS (although that is going to be contaminated somewhat by a high student population). The effects are also very pronounced when dealing with 1 and 2 year old children.
*Work as used here means work for pay or profit.