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Journal Article

Secularization in Europe: religious change between and within birth cohorts


Publication date



 There is ample evidence of religious decline in Western Europe butno general consensus on the situation in the East. Analysis of three waves of theEuropean Values Study (from 1990, 1999 and 2008) adds to the evidence base onsecularization across the continent. As expected, older people in most countries,even in Central and Eastern Europe (though not in parts of the former Yugoslavia),seem to be more religious than the rest of the population. More surprisingly, thedata suggest that religiosity increased in Northern as well as Eastern Europe duringthe 1990s, though it is not certain that these apparent rises are genuine.It still seems fair to say that society is changing religiously not because individualsare changing, but rather because old people are gradually replaced by youngerpeople with different characteristics. Much remains to be understood, though,about why recent generations are different. Parents may be partly responsible, bygiving children more control over their own lives. The composition of society haschanged, but so has the context in which people are raised. Young people acquiredifferent values and face new conditions. Which factors are most important remainsto be determined.

Published in

Religion and Society in Central and Eastern Europe

Volume and page numbers

4 , 39 -62




Demography, Religion, and Social Change



Open access journal


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