WOMEN are more likely than men to believe in life after death, a
survey carried out by the UCL Institute of Education (IOE)
The Mysteries of Religion and the Lifecourse, a survey
of more than 9000 people from the Social Research Council's 1970
British Cohort Study, showed that 60 per cent of women held this
belief compared with 35 per cent of men. A third of the women who
took part in the survey (34 per cent) described themselves as
atheists or agnostics; more than half of men (54 per cent)
identified as such.
The study divided respondents into seven categories, based on
their religious belief. The largest category, the "non-religious",
comprised 28 per cent of the group that had no religion and no
belief in God or life after death.
A further 21 per cent were described as "unorthodox
non-religious" - these had no religion, but had a belief in God, or
life after death.
The remaining 51 per cent had some form of religious belief;
including 15 per cent who were "actively religious", and 14 per
cent who were "non-practising religious."
The remaining three categories covered people who believe in God
and life after death, but did not have a religion (ten per cent);
those who identified with a religion but did not believe in God and
life after death (seven per cent) and those who had a religion,
attended services at least occasionally, and believed in God but
not in life after death (five per cent).
Comparing the latest research with earlier surveys conducted
with this same group, Professor David Voas, who analysed the survey
results, said it could be seen that "a substantial proportion of
teenagers who reported that religion was an important part of their
lives at age 16 became relatively unreligious adults. There is some
movement in the opposite direction, but not nearly enough to
compensate for the losses to religion."
The Christian group with the largest proportion of people who
said that "they knew God really exists, and had no doubts about it"
was Evangelicals, with 71 per cent. That figure dropped to 33 for
Roman Catholics, and just 16 per cent for what the survey termed
"mainline Christian denominations", including Anglicans.
The survey is the eighth to be conducted among members of the
1970 British Cohort Study, which involves more than 17,000 people
born in mainland Britain in a single week of 1970. Their lives are
being followed by the IOE's Centre for Longitudinal Studies
The Mysteries of Religion and the Lifecourse is
available online at www.cls.ioe.ac.uk.
Poll backs Christianity. A Comres
survey for ITV News on Tuesday suggested that more people believe
that Christianity is "a force for good in the world" than religion
The poll suggested that 24 per cent of the respondents agreed
that religion was a force for good in the world, compared with 39
per cent who said that Christianity is a force for good.
There was support (63 per cent) for the Archbishops' statement
that Britain "has become dominated by consumerism and selfishness".
And, although 44 per cent of those surveyed said that religious
leaders should keep out of politics, half of them agreed that
"religious leaders in Britain should speak out about economic