Tag Archives: nation: Latvia

Religiosity Varies Dramatically Across Countries

In a previous post I discussed how the U.S. became more religious in the 1950s, in part in response to its the Cold War enemies (atheist communists).  In fact, the U.S. is among the most religious countries in the world.  Using data from the International Social Survey Programme, Sociologist Tom Smith paints wildly different religious portraits of 28 nations (full text).

When asked whether they “know that God really exists and… have no doubt about it,” 61% of Americans say “yes.”  Of the 28 nations studied, only four were more likely to say “yes” to this question: Poland, Israel, Chile, and the Philippines. Here’s how we look compared to similar countries:

Here’s all 28 in rank order (borrowed from LiveScience).  Notice how wide the divergence is.  In Japan, the least religious country according to this measure, only 4% say they have no doubt God exists.  In The Philippines, 84% have no doubt.

% Have No Doubt God Exists:

  • Japan: 4.3 percent
  • East Germany: 7.8 percent
  • Sweden: 10.2
  • Czech Republic: 11.1
  • Denmark: 13.0
  • Norway: 14.8
  • France: 15.5
  • Great Britain: 16.8
  • The Netherlands: 21.2
  • Austria: 21.4
  • Latvia: 21.7
  • Hungary: 23.5
  • Slovenia: 23.6
  • Australia: 24.9
  • Switzerland: 25.0
  • New Zealand: 26.4
  • West Germany: 26.7
  • Russia: 30.5
  • Spain: 38.4
  • Slovakia: 39.2
  • Italy: 41.0
  • Ireland: 43.2
  • Northern Ireland: 45.6
  • Portugal: 50.9
  • Cyprus: 59.0
  • United States: 60.6
  • Poland: 62.0
  • Israel: 65.5
  • Chile: 79.4
  • The Philippines: 83.6

Americans are also particularly likely to believe in a “personal God,” one who is closely attentive to the lives of each and every person.

Quite interestingly, the U.S. is in the minority in that Americans tend to become increasingly religious as they age.  In most countries, people become less religious over time.  This graph (confusingly labeled), shows changes in DISbelief over the life course.  The U.S. is the only country among these in which disbelief declines:

Lifetime Change in Religiosity (from increase in disbelief to increase in belief):

  • The Netherlands: -14.0
  • Spain: -12.4
  • Australia: -12.0
  • France: -11.3
  • Norway: -11.0
  • Great Britain: -10.1
  • Switzerland: -8.2
  • Germany (East): -6.9
  • Denmark: -6.1
  • Czech Republic: -5.5
  • Sweden: -5.5
  • Germany (West): -5.4
  • New Zealand: -4.0
  • Italy: -2.7
  • Poland: -1.8
  • Japan: -1.5
  • Ireland: -0.9
  • Chile: +0.1
  • Cyprus: +0.2
  • Portugal: +0.6
  • The Philippines: +0.8
  • Hungary: +1.0
  • Northern Ireland: +1.0
  • United States: +1.4
  • Israel: +2.6
  • Slovakia: +5.6
  • Slovenia: +8.5
  • Latvia: +11.9
  • Russia: +16.0

Rates of atheism — a strong disbelief in God — also vary tremendously.  East Germany is the most atheist, with more than half of citizens claiming disbelief.  The country is a stark contrast to the atheist among them, Poland and the U.S. (only 3% atheist), Chile and Cyprus (2%), and The Phillipines (1%).

% Atheist:

  • East Germany: 52.1
  • Czech Republic: 39.9
  • France: 23.3
  • The Netherlands: 19.7
  • Sweden: 19.3
  • Latvia: 18.3
  • Great Britain: 18.0
  • Denmark: 17.9
  • Norway: 17.4
  • Australia: 15.9
  • Hungary: 15.2
  • Slovenia: 13.2
  • New Zealand: 12.6
  • Slovakia: 11.7
  • West Germany: 10.3
  • Spain: 9.7
  • Switzerland: 9.3
  • Austria: 9.2
  • Japan: 8.7
  • Russia: 6.8
  • Northern Ireland: 6.6
  • Israel: 6.0
  • Italy: 5.9
  • Portugal: 5.1
  • Ireland: 5.0
  • Poland: 3.3
  • United States: 3.0
  • Chile: 1.9
  • Cyprus: 1.9
  • The Philippines: 0.7

As a post-9/11 American watching another election cycle, I can’t help but notice how so much of our rhetoric revolves — sometimes overtly and sometimes not — around people who are the wrong religion.  Notably, Muslims.  And yet, the U.S. and many Muslim countries are alike in being strongly religious, at least in comparison to the many strongly secular countries.

This is odd because stands in contrast to recent data on American attitudes.  Within the U.S., people express much less tolerance for atheists than they do Muslims (homosexuals, African Americans, and immigrants). Weirdly, we think we have more in common with more secular nations like Great Britain than we do with countries like Pakistan or Saudi Arabia. In certain ways, the opposite might be true.

Thanks to Claude Fischer for the graphs.  Fischer, a sociologist at UC Berkeley, is the author of Made in America: A Social History of American Culture and Character.

Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College and the co-author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Big Trouble Brewing In Europe

Cross-posted at Reports from the Economic Front.

There is big trouble brewing in Europe.  John Ross, in his blog Key Trends in the World Economy, highlights this brewing crisis in a series of charts, some of which I repost below.

This first chart shows the extent of the recovery from the recent economic crisis in the U.S., the EU, and Japan.  While the U.S. GDP has finally regained its past business cycle peak, the same cannot be said for Europe (or Japan).  As of the 3rd quarter 2011, EU GDP was still 1.7% below its previous business cycle peak.  The Eurozone was 1.9% below.

Recent GDP estimates for the 4th quarter show European GDP once again contracting, which strongly suggests that the region is headed back into recession without having regained its previous business cycle peak.  This development implies that Europe faces serious stagnationist pressures.

gdp1.jpg

This chart looks at the growth record for the 5 largest European economies.  Germany has regained its previous GDP peak.  France is making progress toward that end.  These two countries account for 36.2% of European GDP.  However, things are quite different for the UK, Italy, and Spain.  These three countries account for 34.7% of European GDP and not only do they each remain far below their respective previous GDP peaks, their economies are once again heading downward.

gdp2.jpg

The third chart highlights the economic performance of the three countries which have received the most media attention because of fears that their governments will be unable to repay their respective debts.  They are clearly in trouble, adding to the downward pressure on European GDP.  However, despite all the attention paid to them, their combined economies are only one-eighth the size of the combined economies of the UK, Italy and Spain.

gdp3.jpg

The next two charts highlight the fact that economic trends are also dire throughout much of Eastern Europe.

gdp4.jpg

gdp5.jpg

The take-away is that European economic problems are not limited to a few smaller countries.  Some of the largest are also performing poorly and apparently headed back into recession without ever having regained their past business cycle peaks.  It is hard to see Europe escaping recession.  And it is hard to see the U.S., Asia, and Africa escaping the consequences.

Comparison of European and U.S. Minimum Wages

I am trying to re-enter society after several days being sick, so I’m going with something short and simple today. Eden H. sent in this chart, found at Business Insider, that compares hourly minimum wages in a number of European countries to the U.S.:

The European data are available from Eurostat (though note they report minimum wages in terms of Euros per month, not hour, so the data was converted for the chart).

Kitchen Cabinets with Naked Woman on Front

Susanne T. sent me this image. She is in Latvia and walks by a furniture store every day that has this set of kitchen cabinets visible from the street.

I think it’s especially interesting that, unless Latvia has a much more egalitarian division of household labor than the U.S., it would be primarily women using this cabinet to do dishes. Susanne, any information about gender and housework in Latvia?