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JSPES, Vol. 36, No. 3 (Fall 2011)
pp. 318-359

Secularization and Desecularization in Our Time

Gerhard Meisenberg

Ross University Medical School, Dominica (Eastern Caribbean)

Using data from the World Values Survey covering the period from 1981 to 2008, this study examines trends in the strength of religious belief worldwide. At the country level, the most important predictors of current religiosity are high intelligence and a history of communist rule, both of which reduce religious belief. However, religiosity has been rising vigorously in the communist and excommunist countries during the surveyed period although religion is declining in most countries of non-communist Europe and East Asia. In addition to a history of communist rule, other factors associated with rising religiosity include high religiosity of young people relative to older people, high female relative to male religiosity, and a positive relationship between religiosity and fertility. In addition, religion tends to grow in countries in which less educated people are far more religious than those with higher education. Aside from the rebound of religion in the (ex)communist countries, the religiosity gap between the most advanced and the most backward nations has widened worldwide. The implications of these findings for the future of religion are discussed.