Volume 31 - Article 43 | Pages 1297–1310

When people shed religious identity in Ireland and Austria: Evidence from censuses

By David McClendon, Conrad Hackett

Print this page  Facebook  Twitter

 

 
Date received:09 Sep 2014
Date published:28 Nov 2014
Word count:2307
Keywords:life course analysis, religion, social change
DOI:10.4054/DemRes.2014.31.43
 

Abstract

Background: Disaffiliation from religion is an important factor behind the rapid rise in persons claiming no religious affiliation in many advanced industrial countries. Scholars typically think of disaffiliation as a life course process that is confined to young adults, with little change occurring among older adults, yet few studies have examined this assumption outside the United States and Great Britain.

Objective: We evaluate whether the young-adult model of disaffiliation from religion applies in Ireland and Austria, two historically Catholic-majority countries with different levels of non-affiliation growth.

Methods: We use census data on religious affiliation in Ireland (1971-2011) and Austria (1971-2001) to track aggregate changes in the percentage reporting no religious affiliation over the life course for successive birth cohorts.

Results: We find support for the young-adult model in Ireland. However, recent cohorts in Austria exhibit a distinct pattern of disaffiliation that continues into middle adulthood. Our analysis suggests that mid-life disaffiliation in Austria is connected to a religious tax, which we argue spurs nominally affiliated adults to disaffiliate themselves, as their income rises and the costs of religious affiliation increase.

Conclusions: Our findings offer insight into some of the social factors behind recent religious change across Europe and highlight the need for more cross-national research on the age and cohort dimensions of this change.

Author's Affiliation

David McClendon - Children at Risk, United States of America [Email]
Conrad Hackett - Pew Research Center, United States of America [Email]

Other articles by the same author/authors in Demographic Research

» Dating across and hooking 'up': Status and relationship formation at an elite liberal arts university
Volume 37 - Article 60

» The future size of religiously affiliated and unaffiliated populations
Volume 32 - Article 27

» Is Buddhism the low fertility religion of Asia?
Volume 32 - Article 1

Most recent similar articles in Demographic Research

» Family systems and the timing and spacing of bearing children
Volume 42 - Article 16    | Keywords: life course analysis

» An exploration of differences in ideal family size between Muslim and non-Muslim women in France
Volume 41 - Article 22    | Keywords: religion

» Family histories and the demography of grandparenthood
Volume 39 - Article 42    | Keywords: life course analysis

» The impact of kin availability, parental religiosity, and nativity on fertility differentials in the late 19th-century United States
Volume 37 - Article 34    | Keywords: religion

» The timing of parenthood and its effect on social contact and support
Volume 36 - Article 62    | Keywords: life course analysis