"'Go west young man' and sex ratios" at FAIRBlog.org is an important contribution toward our understanding of possible purposes behind the temporary practice of polygamy in the Church in the nineteenth century (yeah, probably my least favorite topic). It's been easy to dispel folk lore about polygamy being required because of so many Mormon men being murdered during the persecutions the Church faced. However, a more careful look at the demographics shows that there was in fact a shortage of Mormon men relative to women of marriage of age, not so much because of men being killed, but because of much higher conversion rates among women, resulting in a large influx of unmarried women to Utah. In the absence of polygamy, they would have been much more likely to turn to predominantly male non-Mormon population of Utah to find spouses or remained single in a place and era when one can argue that this was much more undesirable than it is today. Not that this was the reason--we don't know what it was--but, as Keller, the author says, it "at least seems like a positive side effect."

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