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Utah fertility rate tops the U.S. charts

Published: Sunday, Nov. 7 2010 11:21 a.m. MST

SALT LAKE CITY — A Census study found that Utah has the highest fertility rate and some of the most stable families in the country.

Researchers said the state's dominate LDS culture explains some of the latest figures coming from the U.S. Census Bureau, which found that Utah produces lots of babies and that a solid majority — 87 percent — are born in wedlock, compared with 70 percent nationally.

The Census Bureau pulled numbers for the year ending June 2008 for its "Fertility of American Women" study.

Utah had 81 children for every 1,000 women during the year, compared with a national average of 58.

Utah's Mormon church promotes marriage and families, University of Utah research economist Pam Perlich told The Salt Lake Tribune.

"We are the most-married state in the nation," Perlich said. "We marry earlier, tend to stay married, have kids earlier and have more of them."

The study also found that more than 90 percent of Utah women giving birth were U.S. citizens — the national average is about 85 percent.

Utah also had the third-lowest rate of mothers living in poverty at 15.2 percent. Across the country, nearly a quarter of the women giving birth were living in poverty.

In another measure, Utah had a low rate of unemployment among new mothers who are seeking jobs. The figure was 3 percent, nearly half the national average.

For the first time, the Census Bureau also asked unmarried mothers if they were cohabiting with a partner, and it found that 28 percent were.

"The report shows that many unmarried new moms are not raising their child alone," said Jane Dye, the report's author.

No state-by-state data was available for cohabitation.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints reacted to the data by pointing to church proclamations that say marriage and fidelity are essential to God's plan and that families are ordained to give children the bonds of matrimony.

"The Mormon culture puts a high value on children and having a lot of them," Perlich said. "Notwithstanding that a lot of non-Mormons are moving to the area, the Mormon culture still prevails."

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