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Demography and Modernization as the Major Determinants of Religious Belief

Gerhard Meisenberg


Published: 2012/06/01


Using a sample of up to 62 countries, this study finds that differential fertility influences trend lines in the prevalence of theistic religious belief at the country level. High religiosity of females relative to males is an additional, though less consistent, predictor. These effects are demonstrated on the background of two other causal influences: Recovery from communist rule predicts a rising trend, and indicators of economic, social and cognitive development predict a declining trend. Several alternative hypotheses about the determinants of religious trends receive no support.

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