Census: Utah is unique, but becoming more like nation

James and Sherry Sorensen are raising four children, all boys. Their household is twice as large as the national average. But Sherry says it doesn’t feel like she has a big family, at least not in Utah.

“Four children is just average,” the West Valley City mom says. “I think you need to have at least five for it to be big. It used to be that you needed eight or nine before people considered it large.”

That helps illustrate two things. First, that Utah — again — has the largest median household size in the nation, according to Census estimates released Tuesday. Second, Utah over time is trending toward the rest of the nation in many family-related categories — so, for example, what Utahns consider to be a “big” family is shrinking over time.

“That’s because we are more connected to the outside world now. Utah used to be an isolated tiny place,” said University of Utah research economist Pam Perlich. “As we become more connected to the outside world, we tend to resemble it more over time.... Utah lags national trends by about two or 2.5 generations.”

Utah state demographer Juliette Tennert adds that Utah is unique largely because of the pro-family influence of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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