English title: Young people: are they less religious than older people, and are they less religious than they used to be?

Author(s): Marion Burkimsher -

Language: English

Type: Conference paper/poster

Year: 2008


Compares the attendance rates at religious services of young people (18-29) with older people (aged 50+). Plots the trends of religious attendance for the young age group over time, using data from the World Values Survey and European Social Survey. Conclusion 1: It is not a universal pattern for older people to be more religious than younger people. The countries where more younger people are participating in religion or where there is approximate equality include: some ex-Communist countries, African countries and some Muslim/Asian countries. Countries with the widest age differentials are: Japan, the Scandinavian countries and Western European countries. Conclusion 2: Most of the age differential in religiosity stems from the cohort effect, ie. people were more religious in the past, and so the age pattern we see today is a relic of older generations being more religious, and their level has generally remained stable over time. There is a significant age effect - a trough in participation in the mid-20s. Of 100 attenders in their late teens, only ~80 will remain so to their mid-20s. They may return later, perhaps associated with marriage/ children. Longer period of adult singleness causing trough? There may be another small trough: mid-life crisis in the 50s? There are wide country-to-country differences in levels of religiosity and trends of secularisation. Country of residence is the primary determinant of religiosity differentials. Conclusion 3, to question “Are young people less religious than they used to be?” Yes, decline in some countries, in some periods, eg. western Europe up to 2000, some Asian countries (except China). No, increase in others, eg. Balkans, some ex-communist countries, African countries. Stability in others, some at a low level (eg. Scandinavia), others at a high level (eg. some Catholic countries). There is a great diversity of attendance levels and trends!

Conference name: 5th International Lausanne Researchers Conference

Location: Melbourne, Australia

Start date: Apr 8, 2008

Type: Paper