Do LDS Proselyting Missions Change Attitudes Toward the Poor?

According to David Evans at writes:

In a recent research paper, economist Lee Crawfurd seeks to answer this question by comparing missionaries who served in a predominantly high-income region – Europe – with those who served in low- and middle-income areas – Africa, Asia, or Latin America. The missionaries assigned to these different regions look very similar on a range of relevant characteristics, such as the number of languages they speak or the number of countries they’d visited.

Here is what he finds:

“We find that returned missionaries who were assigned to a low-income region are more interested in global development, years after their assignment. They are also more likely to continue to volunteer. But we see no difference in support for government aid or immigration, and no difference in personal donations.”

Here’s a bit more detail:

“We find the largest effects on interest in development for those assigned to Africa. We also see a positive effect on attitudes towards official aid for those assigned to Africa (but not Asia or Latin America). Third, those assigned to Africa are more likely to donate to international charities, more likely to volunteer for international causes, more likely to have a career in global development, but less likely to support a political campaign.”

LDS Missionaries in Ghana

It is interesting that LDS missionaries that serve in Africa develop the greatest empathy toward the poor.  This can, in part, be explained by the fact that by UN standards, Africa is the poorest of the continents.

My comment to the above post was:

If missionaries did more service work in developing countries, I’m sure that would further shape their feelings about the poor. And it would help members better understand Prez Monson’s 4th mission of the Church (Care for the Poor and Needy).

The Church needs a much greater commitment to service missions and working with the “poor and needy.”

This entry was posted in Africa, Mormon Mission Experiences, Social Justice and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Do LDS Proselyting Missions Change Attitudes Toward the Poor?

  1. Paul says:

    I love your blog, thought process, and more than anything, your willingness to actually go out and DO something. I am amazed that you have the funding/support to go and do so much humanitarian work and that you go and do it.

    I agree that there should be much more in the way of service missions from a church that professes to be the church that Jesus, the great healer and advocate of the poor, restored. I was actually rather surprised that it took so long for the church to add the 4th mission (which IMO should be the 1st mission) a few years ago. I still hear very little support of this mission in conference talks or actual humanitarian work done beyond what has been happening in the past 40 years.

    I have heard (true or not) that some Peace Corps or other GMO, when interviewed, said that if he had even 1/4 of the church’s missionaries that he could have and work with, that it would be amazing all that could be done. It is also my opinion that if you really wanted to retain our younger generation, give them something truly meaningful to do in the world. I think they would latch on in a way that would be world-changing. Send the missionaries out to do good in the world; helping with water supplies, sanitation systems, medical support, whatever, and not going door to door trying to sell religion like I did for two years and watch something amazing happen. Do good, not to gain converts, but to do the good Jesus would do, for the right reasons, because it is good and lifts all.

    Sorry, on a rant. But I am within a couple of years of retirement and looking for something meaningful to do, but quite frankly, going on a senior mission isn’t resonating with me for the reasons outlined above. Perhaps you could contact me and we may be able to discuss some things of interest that I could consider. I believe you can get my email from my detail filled out in order to post.

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