06 September 2012
A recently released global survey on religion and atheism has found that atheism is on the rise and religiosity is declining.
Globally, the survey found that 13% of people identify as atheists and a further 23% as non-religious, while 59% of people identify as religious. On a comparable basis, since the same question was asked in 2005, the number of people claiming to be religious has fallen by 9% while those specifically identifying as atheists rose by 3%.
The survey conducted by WIN-Gallup International, an established worldwide network of opinion pollsters, was based in interviews with more than 50,000 people across 57 countries, which collectively cover more than 73% of the world's population. The survey captures people's self-identification on the topic of religion, specifically including their identification as atheists. Key findings of the survey include:
- Religiosity is higher among the poor: 66% of people in the lowest income group are religious compared to 49% in the highest income group,
- A higher level of education is associated with lower religiosity: 68% of those with no or only a basic education identify as religious compared to 52% of those with higher than secondary school education,
- Women are slightly more inclined to identify as atheists (14% globally) than men (12% globally)
- The top 10 countries where people specifically identify as atheist are China (47%), Japan (31%), Czech Republic (30%), France (29%), South Korea (15%), Germany (15%), Netherlands (14%), Austria (10%), Iceland (10%) and Australia (10%). Ireland, Canada and Spain followed (10%, 9%, 9%),
- The countries which illustrated the largest increases in identified atheists were France (+15%), Czech Republic (+10%), Japan (+8%), Ireland (+7%), Netherlands (+7%), Argentina (+5%), Germany (+5%) and the United States (+4%),
- The largest declines in religiosity between 2005 and 2012 occurred in Vietnam (from 53% to 30%), Ireland (from 69% to 47%), France (from 58% to 37%), Switzerland (from 71% to 50%), South Africa (from 83% to 64%) and Ecuador (from 85% to 70%),
The most religious region of the world is Africa, with 89% of people identifying as religious, followed by Latin America at 84%. In the Arab World 77% identified as religious, although current volatile countries Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan were at 88%, 83% and 84% respectively,
- The least religious regions of the world are North and East Asia, where only 17% and 39% of people, respectively, identified as religious. In Western Europe the figure was 51%, it was 66% in Eastern Europe and 57% in North America, and
- The top 10 most religious countries are: Ghana (96%), Nigeria (93%), Macedonia (90%), Romania (85%), Kenya (88%), Peru (86%), Pakistan (84%), Moldova (83%), Colombia (83%) and Cameroon (82%).