Volume 10 - Article 3 | Pages 61-82

Life expectancy among LDS and Non-LDS in Utah

By Ray M. Merrill

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Date received:26 Jul 2003
Date published:12 Mar 2004
Word count:3608
Keywords:life style, life tables, Mormons, religion, risk factors, Utah


This paper compares life expectancy between members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS or Mormons) and non-LDS in Utah. It examines the extent to which tobacco-related deaths explain variation in life expectancy between LDS and non-LDS.
Complete life table estimates were derived using conventional methods and cross-sectional data for white males and females from 1994-1998. Life expectancy was 77.3 for LDS males, 70.0 for non-LDS males, 82.2 for LDS females, and 76.4 for non-LDS females. For those alive at age 80, the remaining years of life expected were 8.2 for LDS males, 6.5 for non-LDS males, 10.3 for LDS females, and 7.1 for non-LDS females. Years of life expected increased more so among non-LDS after we removed deaths associated with tobacco use from the life table.
A comparison between LDS and non-LDS of the adjusted life expectancy estimates indicates that although differential tobacco use explains some of the higher life expectancy in LDS, it only accounts for about 1.5 years of the 7.3 year difference for males and 1.2 years of the 5.8 year difference for females. Higher life expectancy experienced among LDS not explained by tobacco-related deaths may be due to factors associated with religious activity in general, such as better physical health, better social support, and healthier lifestyle behaviors. Religious activity may also have an independent protective effect against mortality.

Author's Affiliation

Ray M. Merrill - Brigham Young University, United States of America [Email]

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