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Religious Decline in Scotland: New Evidence on Timing and Spatial Patterns

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Abstract:

The 2001 population census in Scotland—the first to include questions on religion—provides important evidence on religious mobility and the effect of local context on religious disaffection. The amount of denominational switching is small both in absolute terms and relative to the incidence of complete defection. The trend toward disaffiliation dates from before World War II, but religious decline has been especially steep since the 1960s. While there are important geographical variations in religious adherence, the absolute size of the swing to no religion has been quite uniform across the country. These approximately constant reductions in affiliation imply, somewhat counterintuitively, the existence of neighborhood differences, with denominational identification being most likely to wane in areas where the denomination is weak. No association was found between the proportion of the local population affiliated with a religious group and the level of participation in that denomination.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-5906.2006.00009.x

Affiliations: David Voas is a Simon Research Fellow at the Cathie Marsh Centre for Census and Survey Research, University of Manchester, Manchester, M13 9PL, UK., Email: voas@man.ac.uk

Publication date: March 1, 2006

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