Modernization and the gender gap in religiosity: Evidence from cross-national European surveys

  • David VoasEmail author
  • Siobhan McAndrew
  • Ingrid Storm
Individuelle Religiosität


The tendency of women to be more religious than men has been widely observed. Many theories have been offered to account for this difference, with explanations ranging from the biological to the sociological; no consensus on the explanation has been reached. Using data from the European Social Survey, the European Values Study and the International Social Survey Programme, in conjunction with a new method for measuring the gender gap, we compare different countries, generations and periods in Europe to address three key questions: (1) How much do the differences between men and women depend on what indicator of religiosity (e.g. affiliation, attendance, prayer, belief) is being considered? (2) Is there an association at the national level between the size of the gender gap and the degree of secularization or gender equality? (3) Is there a convergence in the religiosity of men and women across generations or over time? There is some evidence for such a narrowing of the gap in Europe—most noticeably in southern and Eastern Europe—but substantial differences persist. Even in countries that are comparatively secular and where gender inequality has been much reduced, women are considerably more likely than men to identify with a religion, to call themselves religious, and to participate in public and private religious activities.


Religion Gender Modernization Europe Secularization 

Modernisierung und der „Gender Gap” der Religiosität: Ergebnisse aus vergleichenden europäischen Umfragen


Die Tendenz, dass Frauen religiöser sind als Männer wurde häufig beobachtet. Zur Begründung dieses Unterschieds wurden viele Theorien formuliert, deren Erklärung von biologisch bis soziologisch reichen; ein Konsens zur Erklärung des Geschlechtsunterschieds in der Religiosität wurde nicht erreicht. Auf der Basis von Daten aus dem European Social Survey, der European Values Study und dem International Social Survey Programme sowie einer neuen Methode zur Messung des Gender Gap vergleichen wir Länder, Generationen und Zeiträume in Europa, um drei Schlüsselfragen zu beantworten: 1) Wie stark hängt der Unterschied zwischen Männern und Frauen vom verwendeten Indikator für Religiosität (z. B. Mitgliedschaft, Kirchgang, Beten, Glauben) ab? 2) Besteht auf der Ebene der Nationalstaaten eine Beziehung zwischen der Größe des Gender Gap und dem Ausmaß der Säkularisierung oder der Gleichheit der Geschlechter? 3) Nähert sich die Religiosität von Männern und Frauen in der Generationenfolge oder über die Zeit an? Die Ergebnisse deuten auf eine Verringerung des Gender Gap in Europa, insbesondere in Süd- und Osteuropa hin, nach wie vor sind jedoch Differenzen beobachtbar. Selbst in sehr säkularen Ländern und solchen, in denen die Ungleichheit zwischen den Geschlechtern stark reduziert wurde, identifizieren sich Frauen deutlich häufiger als Männer mit einer Religionsgemeinschaft, sie halten sich für religiöser und praktizieren ihre Religiosität sowohl öffentlich als auch privat häufiger.


Religion Geschlecht Modernisierung Europa Säkularisierung 


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Copyright information

© Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Social and Economic ResearchUniversity of EssexEssexUK
  2. 2.Institute for Social ChangeUniversity of ManchesterManchesterUK

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