7 charts that reveal the most – and the least – religious people across the world... and how it is the young who are the biggest believers

China is the most 'atheist' country, according to new data

Zachary Davies Boren
Saturday 18 April 2015 08:41 BST

More than 60 per cent of people around the world identify as 'religious', according to a new study.

Around Easter-time, leading pollster WIN/Gallup International spoke to more than 63,000 people from 65 countries about religion.

In the country-by-country data visualised above there are two glaring omissions: Africa and The Middle East.

It's safe to assume that, were they polled, the vast majority of those peoples would consider themselves religious — you'd expect something in excess of 90%.

From the available data, here are seven things we learned.

There are twice as many religious people as non-believers

It may sometimes seem as though secularism has trumped traditional religion, but that's quite clearly not the case.

Based on Gallup's findings, atheists and other non-religious folk together comprise 33 per cent of the world. That's just over half of their religious equivalents.

And bearing in mind which parts of the world were omitted, this is a very conservative comparison.

China is by far the most atheist country

Since countries like Saudi Arabia (where there is a lack of religious freedom) were not quizzed by Gallup, the most religious country is Thailand, where 94 per cent belong to a faith and just 1 per cent are atheists.

East Asia is a country of extremes, it seems, with China the world's least religious — twice as many atheists as believers. Japan is the second least religious, followed by a crop of European countries.

According to the survey, the UK is among the less religious countries, with 54 per cent calling themselves 'not religious' versus 30 per cent who are and 13 per cent who are convinced atheists.

Religion is dominant on every continent

Western Europe and Oceania are considerably less religious than the other continents, but this part of the poll shows just how everywhere religion is.

In Africa, the Americas, Asia, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East, religion is well more than double the size of any of the alternatives.

Older people are, surprisingly, less religious

In what is one of the more unexpected findings of the study, it turns out that older people are less religious than younger people.

People in the middle aged bracket (44-54) are the least likely to be religious, the most likely to be atheist.

On the other hand, people in their twenties are most likely to identify with a religion, and so are a high proportion of under 25s.

Housewives are the most often religious, the full-time employed the least

Housewives are most likely to be religious, followed by retirees and then students (66 per cent).

Wealthier people are less religious

One of the more influential factors, it seems, is income.

There is a marked drop-off in religiosity between middle income individuals and upper-middle individuals.

It's especially pronounced in the number who identify as atheist, going from 8 per cent in middle income to 25 per cent in the 'medium high' range.

And so are people with more education

A similar trend, though less extreme, is the difference education makes.

Four out of five people without an education identify as religious, whereas that stat falls to 3 in five of those who attended university.

As with age and income, the last bracket (post graduates) is slightly more religious and less atheistic than the second-to-last.

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