Friday, August 23, 2013

Seminary Enrollment around the World

Seminary is an important institution of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that teaches high school age students basic principles of the gospel through scripture study.  In many parts of the world, where membership is sparse, seminary acts as a social gathering place where youth can associate with others who share their commitment to the gospel.  In “A Model of Variables Affecting Missionaries Set Apart,” I demonstrate that the number of seminary students is an important variable in predicting the number of missionaries set apart in a given year.  I believe that the relationship is causal, that seminary strengthens testimonies and friendships and nurtures a desire to serve the Lord.  I don’t believe that a demographic variable such as the number of eighteen year-old young men and women who are members of the church would have the same statistical correlation as the number of seminary students.  This post is my first attempt to understand seminary from a geographic perspective. 
Seminary World Map

The Ten Countries with the Largest Seminary Enrollments



USA 1830 204,684 30.88
Mexico 1975 28,299 46.56
Brazil 1928 22,655 53.41
Peru 1956 17,969 29.37
Philippines 1931 16,791 40.21
Chile 1956 7,118 81.16
Guatemala 1947 6,735 35.59
Argentina 1925 6,503 63.36
Bolivia 1964 5,375 34.03
Honduras 1952 4,564 33.79
The graph, “Number of Seminary Students,” is a color map that ranks countries by the number of seminary students by color, blue representing countries with the highest enrollment and red, the lowest.  The table “The Ten Countries with the Largest Seminary Enrollments” lists the ten countries with the highest seminary enrollment as well as the year the Church began operations in that country and the ratio of membership divided by seminary students for each country.  This ratio roughly estimates level of commitment by members, at least the commitment to seminary; the lower the ratio, the more intense members’ commitment.  It can be distorted by the age distribution of membership.  An aging country like the United States should have a higher ratio than a country with relatively young country like Bolivia or Brazil. 
The color map and table demonstrate the strength of the Church in North and South America.  The United States easily has the highest enrollment.  It was so high that to aid in the production of the color map, I set its enrollment in the U.S. to that of Mexico; if I had not, the world map would have been a sea of red. U.S. enrollment is enormous, almost four times as high as Mexico, the country with the next highest enrollment.  Enrollment in the U.S. represents 52.26% of world-wide enrollment.  The ratio of membership to seminary enrollment provides interesting insights to the intensity of commitment.  The U.S. sets the benchmark at 30.88 members for each seminary student that only Peru bests.  Prior to writing the post, I believed that wealthy countries would have a lower ratio than poor or middle income countries despite their aging populations and low birth rates.  The evidence flatly contradicts this notion.  In addition to the Unites States and Peru, Honduras, Bolivia and Guatemala performed well by this ratio.  The Southern Cone countries, Chile and Argentina, were the weakest performers. 
Seminary to membership World Map

The Ten Countries with the Lowest Membership to Seminary Enrollment Ratios

(Corrected August 25,2013)



Guam 1944 253 9.07
Sierra Leone 1975 615 18.97
Cote d’Ivoire 1988 974 19.10
Rep. of the Congo 1991 297 19.36
Kenya 1991 16,791 20.20
Liberia 1956 596 19.91
American Samoa 1843 776 20.14
Madagascar 1993 455 20.20
Ghana 1979 2511 20.86
French Polynesia 1892 995 22.77
The second graph, “Membership divided by Seminary Students,” sets the first on its head.  Not one country among the ten with highest enrollments made the list of countries with the lowest ratios.  In this case, the countries with the lowest ratio are shown in blue or green and the highest, in red.  The table “The Ten Countries with the Lowest Membership to Seminary Enrollment Ratios” duplicates the columns of the first table but contains the countries with the best (lowest) ratios.  To be included on the list, a country had to have a seminary enrollment of at least 250 students.  The best performers were from Africa or Oceania.  The Church has only recently entered the African countries.
Several questions arise given my impression that the countries on this list are generally young and poor.  What would this ratio look like if adjusted for these two factors?  If they remain grouped with the best performers, has the Church used different missionary strategies?  I wish I had a list of the number of missionaries set apart by year and by country but that wish will likely not be granted.  I believe that seminary enrollment, the membership to seminary enrollment ratio adjusted by the age of the country, would vastly improve my statistical model predicting the number of missionaries set apart.

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