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Utah still youngest in nation — by far
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

While just-released 2010 Census data shows that Utah is slowly becoming more like the rest of the nation, baby-loving Utah still has the nation's youngest median age and largest households — by far.

"It's because of the dominance of the Mormon culture region and the high value placed on having children," said University of Utah research economist Pam Perlich.

The Census Bureau completed Thursday a monthlong roll out of some basic demographic data from the 2010 Census, releasing data for a few different states each week. Completion of that process finally allowed some state-to-state comparisons.

Utah had the lowest median age among the states at 29.2 years. The second-youngest state, Texas, had a median age of 33.6, a whopping 4.4 years older than Utah.

Utah's median age was also 22 percent lower — and eight full years younger — than the national median of 37.2 years old. Also, Utahns typically were 13.5 years younger than residents of Maine, the oldest state, where the median age was 42.7.

Utah was the nation's youngest even though its median age increased by two years over the past decade — from 27.1 to 29.2 years, as its large "echo boom" generation of children of baby boomers aged and started exiting their child-bearing years.

"We're slowly becoming like the rest of the nation," Perlich said. "We are trending down, but we are a generation and a half to two generations behind the national trend on fertility decline."

She added, "If you compare the fertility of Utah women now with where we were in 1980 or 1950, there's been a major decline in fertility. Still, relative to other states, we have a high fertility rate — which means larger households. It's all related."

Perlich sees two main reasons why Utah has so many more children than other states. First, is the influence of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the value it puts on having children.

Second, "We're younger because we're an in-migration state, even though the migration has slowed. ... Those coming are young people, and young people have babies. And the people who are having babies are having them at higher rates than other states."

She adds that among immigrants are higher numbers of Latinos, and as a group they tend to have a comparatively high fertility rate.

Amid the high fertility rates, Utah's average household size dropped only slightly — from 3.13 people in 2000 to 3.10 in 2010.

Again, that number was still far higher than in other states. The No. 2 state, California, had an average household size of 2.9.

The average household size nationally was 2.58 people — 17 percent smaller than in Utah. North Dakota had the smallest household size among the states at 2.3, and the District of Columbia was even lower at 2.11.

Census • Beehive State the only one where the median age is still in the 20s.
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