Ask an Expert: missionary markets and Mormon occupations

Q: In the 1973 missionary system The Uniform System for Teaching Families, Tracting approaches included “business contacting,” which included going to businesses and asking to speak with “managers, directors, and other executive and supervisory personnel,” to make appointments to give a family home evening to the families of these men in their homes. In addition, missionaries were challenged to “seek invitations to speak to men’s service and civic organizations.” Based on this information, I have two questions:

  1. Are there any studies that focus on the marketing targets of Mormon missionary work, including which segments of each market are most targeted?
  2. Does any data exist that breaks down the occupations of Mormons, both of converts and non-converts?

A: The answer to the first question is pretty straightforward: No.  Of course, that is only referring to published studies.  It is possible that the researchers working for the LDS Church have information on this question, but that information has not been made public and a request would have to be directed toward them to find out if they: (a) have that information, and (b) would share it.

There is some data available on the occupations of Mormons.  Two members of the MSSA wrote in with suggestions.

Andrew Miles noted, “Though it probably won’t be helpful given small sample sizes of Mormons, there are a few nationally representative data sets that have a few Mormons in them, as well as occupation information.  The Health and Retirement Study will get older/retired Mormons (about 100 or so), and the National Longitudinal Study of Youth (1979 cohort) has somewhere between 50-100 as well.  You might also look at the National Study of Youth and Religion, which has some Mormons in it and probably has occupation data as well.  None of these data have information about non-converts, nor, I think do they provide information about whether or not someone is a convert (though you might be able to deduce it from changing religious affiliation, since all are longitudinal).”

Matthew Butler suggested that IPUMS International would be a good source to identify Mormon occupations internationally (although you will not be able to identify convert status):

The detailed codes for RELIG are here (Mormons are 6015)

From a quick glance it appears that the following country-years have Mormon religious identification and occupation:

  • Argentina 2001
  • Brazil 1991, 2000
  • Chile 2002
  • Mexico 2000, 2010
  • Philippines 1990, 2000
  • South Africa 1996, 2001

Finally, there is some data in the General Social Survey on Mormons and occupational codes.  While it requires some data manipulation and familiarity with the data set, Mormons can be identified (found in variable “OTHER”, code is 64) and some degree of conversion can as well (use OTH16 and the same code 64).  The occupational codes aren’t included for every Mormon, but there are some.  Ryan Cragun ran the occupational codes from 1970 (OCC) on various categories of Mormons (lifetime, convert, former, and adult but convert status not known) and created a spreadsheet with the resulting information.  The spreadsheet doesn’t include all of the Mormons in the GSS, as not all of them have a code for the 1970 occupation categories; more have it for the 1980 occupational categories (OCC80).  You can see the spreadsheet here and a PDF version here.

3 Replies to “Ask an Expert: missionary markets and Mormon occupations”

  1. I have conducted research and collated data for British & Irish LDS, 814 usable respondents, which, indeed includes extensive data including occupations, education, religiosity. This is the same question set asked by Armand L. Mauss in the 60s. Each respondent left about 90 pieces of data (approx 73,200).

    I have to write it up but there certainly is an increase in university education and accompanying trades from their reported parents status. Very interesting results so far.

  2. David,

    When you have information on occupations, and if you’re willing to share it, please let me know. I’m happy to post it on this page for others.

  3. Hi Friends,
    I’m thinking about doing a serious paper on the previous occupations of Mormons who are called into senior leadership positions (Apostles, various Quorums of the Seventy, Area presidencies, mission presidents, stake presidencies, etc). I was wondering if anyone can give me some good pointers as to where to start?

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