Journal Article

The End of Secularization in Europe?: A Socio-Demographic Perspective

Eric Kaufmann, Anne Goujon and Vegard Skirbekk

in Sociology of Religion

Published on behalf of Association for the Sociology of Religion

Volume 73, issue 1, pages 69-91
Published in print March 2012 | ISSN: 1069-4404
Published online August 2011 | e-ISSN: 1759-8818 | DOI:
The End of Secularization in Europe?: A Socio-Demographic Perspective

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Much of the current debate over secularization in Europe focuses only on the direction of religious change and pays exclusive attention to social causes. Scholars have been less attentive to shifts in the rate of religious decline and to the role of demography—notably fertility and immigration. This article addresses both phenomena. It uses data from the European Values Surveys and European Social Survey for the period 1981–2008 to establish basic trends in religious attendance and belief across the 10 countries that have been consistently surveyed. These show that religious decline is mainly occurring in Catholic European countries and has effectively ceased among post-1945 birth cohorts in six Northwestern European societies where secularization began early. It also provides a cohort-component projection of religious affiliation for two European countries using fertility, migration, switching, and age and sex-structure parameters derived from census and immigration data. These suggest that Western Europe may be more religious at the end of our century than at its beginning.

Keywords: demography and ecology; secularization; Western Europe; demography

Journal Article.  8494 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Religion ; Sociology of Religion

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