24 August 1998

If The Fish Don't Work Become a Mormon

Among Mormons, the addition of new children to a family doesn't have the same negative educational effects seen in most of the population, according to a study led by Douglas Downey, assistant professor of sociology at Ohio State University.

"Our results suggest Mormons have found ways to devote more resources to their children as family size increases," Downey said. "This helps their children continue to achieve academically."

In a 1995 study published in the American Sociological Review, Downey found that academic achievement among children dropped as family size grew because parents had less time and economic resources for each child. "Parents only have so much time and money, and we found that the more children they have, the more those resources are diluted," he said.

This new study was designed to see if the "resource dilution" explanation held true for groups, such as Mormons, in which large families are accepted and even encouraged. The results of the study showed that Mormon children didn't display the significant declines in educational performance that other children showed as family size increased. And one reason may be that resources parents devoted to children did not decline as significantly among Mormons as they did among the rest of the population, Downey said.

Science à GoGo reckon it may have something to do with the ratio between the numbers of adults to children in Mormon families.