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Census 2021: Average age of a Christian is 51

03 February 2023

For the rest of the UK population, the figure is 40, says ONS

Norwich Cathedral

Congregants sing during a service in Norwich Cathedral on Sunday

Congregants sing during a service in Norwich Cathedral on Sunday

THE average age of Christians in England and Wales is a decade older than the average age of the population, new statistics from the 2021 Census show.

Conversely, people who have no religion are nearly a decade younger than the population average.

The figures were published on Monday in Census 2021: Religion by age and sex, England and Wales by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

They show that the 27.5 million people who identified as Christian in the last Census had the oldest average age of any other group within the voluntary tick-box question on religious identity: 51 years old. This was compared with an average age of 40 for the overall population.

This represents a significant increase from the previous Census in 2011, when the average age of people who identified as Christian was 45. Then, the average population age was just a year younger than it is now: 39.

Almost one third (7.9 million, 29 per cent) of self-identified Christians in 2021 were aged 65 years and over — up from 22.3 per cent (7.4 million) in 2011.

The 22.2 million people who reported having “No religion” in 2021 were, on average, younger than the overall population: 32. Of these respondents, just 8.8 per cent were aged 65 years or older, compared with 18.6 per cent of the overall population. The average age of people who identified as Muslim was even younger: 27.

Referring to the recent decision by the Church of England Bishops to bless (but not marry) same-sex couples, Jayne Ozanne, a General Synod member and LGBT campaigner, said that the latest statistics were “an urgent wake-up call to the Church of England and other churches — people are leaving in their droves, they are fed up with the hypocrisy”.

The Church’s national lead on evangelism, the Revd Dr Stephen Hance, said that reaching Generation Z (born anytime in the mid-to-late ’90s to early 2010s) was a “key priority” for the Church this decade.

“We know that younger people today are less likely to have been brought up in the Christian faith than in the past. But while they may be less familiar with its message that doesn’t mean they are less open to faith.

“The Church, both locally and nationally is exploring ways of connecting with Generation Z through traditional means and new forms of communication.”

The first phase of results from the 2021 Census was published in November (News, 2 December 2022), and showed that, for the first time, fewer than half the population of England and Wales (46.2 per cent) described themselves as Christian — down from 59.3 per cent in 2011 (News, 14 December 2012).

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