Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The religious shall inherit the earth: I wanted to quantify the pattern of religious people having more children than the irreligious. Starting with the U.S, the General Social Survey (2004) indicates that Americans who never go to church average 1.67 kids: it's 2.25 for those who go weekly and a slightly lower 2.14 for those who go more often. By the way, the fertile "attends weekly" group is not fringe: it is the modal category of religious behavior in America.

As for the world, I looked at the World Values Survey and calculated that those who never attend religious services have 1.72 children, compared to 2.47 for those going more than once a week. (I suspect that this sample is a bit skewed toward more developed countries).

I'm reminded of William James' statement that (went something like) believers will always have more vitality than non-believers.


  1. Anonymous4:09 PM

    Most "irreligious" are actually secular humanist ideologues, which is a system terminally ill with anomie.

  2. Anonymous5:06 PM

    I am not really religious, but I attend church (it's a family thing) and it works. I did not just have 2.47 kids, We went all the way and had 3.


  3. Anonymous9:31 PM

    I'd be interested to see the interconversion rates between the religious and irreligious. All of the most sincere atheists I know come from moderately to intensely religious homes, so the irreligion meme might be powerful enough to turn the offspring of the religious into their cuckoo's eggs despite childhood indoctrination.

  4. Anonymous3:14 PM

    I don't know how true it is, but I've heard the Amish have a lot of kids and figure one or two will defect to the infidel world.

    So, yeah, some go off the reservation, but do the vast majority stay?


  5. Richard: I have heard that as many as 1/2 leave. Part of the reason for this is that they are allowed a choice about whether to get baptized or not at age 18.


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