NONES_08 - American Nones The Profile of the No Religion...

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Unformatted text preview: American Nones: The Profile of the No Religion Population A Report Based on the American Religious Identification Survey 2008 Principal Investigators Barry A. Kosmin & Ariela Keysar with Ryan Cragun and Juhem Navarro-Rivera AMERICAN NONES: THE PROFILE OF THE NO RELIGION POPULATION Barry A. Kosmin and Ariela Keysar with Ryan Cragun and Juhem Navarro-Rivera H ighlights Highlights The The 1990s was the decade when the "secular boom" occurred - each year 1.3 million more adult Americans joined the ranks of the Nones. Since 2001 the annual increase has halved to 660,000 a year. (Fig.3.1) Whereas Nones are presently 15% of the total adult U.S. population, 22% of 18selfAmericans aged 18-29 years self-identify as Nones. (Fig.1.2) (selfIn terms of Belonging (self-identification) 1 in 6 Americans is presently of No Religion, while in terms of Belief and Behavior the ratio is higher around 1 in 4. (Fig. 1.17) Regarding belief in the divine, most Nones are neither atheists nor theists but rather agnostics and deists (59%) and perhaps best described as skeptics. (Fig.1.17) The most significant difference between the nonreligious and non-religious populations is a gender gap. (Fig. 1.17) • Most Most Nones are 1st generation - only 32% of "current" Nones report they were None at age 12. (Fig.1.10) 24% of current Nones (and 35% of 1st generation or "new" Nones) are former Catholics. (Fig. 1.10) Geography remains a factor - more than 1 in 5 people in certain regions (the West, New England) are Nones. Class is not a distinguishing characteristic: Nones are not different from the general population by education or income. (Figs 1.6 & 1.7) Race is a declining factor in differentiating Nones. Latinos have tripled their proportion 1990among Nones from 1990-2008 from 4% to 12%. (Fig.1.4) The ethnic/racial profile of Nones shows Asians, Irish and Jews are the most Onesecularized ethnic origin groups. One-third of the Nones claim Irish ancestry. (Figs 1.4 & 1.5) Nones are much more likely to believe in human evolution (61%) than the general American public (38%). (Fig. 1.15) Politically, 21% of the nation's independents are Nones, as are 16% of Democrats and 8% of Republicans. In 1990, 12% of independents were Nones, as were 6% of Democrats and 6% of Republicans. (Fig. 2.1) Whereas Whereas 19% of American men are Nones only 12% of American women are Nones. (Fig. 2.1) The The gender ratio among Nones is 60 males for every 40 females. (Fig.1.1) Women Women are less likely to switch out of religion than men. Women nonWomen are also less likely to stay nonreligious when they are born and raised nonin a non-religious family. • • • American Nones: The Profile of the No Religion Population Contents Contents Introduction Introduction ............................................................................................................................................i i Methodological Note .............................................................................................................................ii ii Part Profile Part I Profile of the No Religion (None) Population 2008 A. SocioSocio A. Socio-demographics ....................................................................................................1 1 Figure Figure 1.1 Figure Figure 1.2 Figure Figure 1.3 Figure Figure 1.4 Figure Figure 1.5 Figure Figure 1.6 Figure Figure 1.7 Figure Figure 1.8 Gender Gender Distribution of Adult Nones and U.S. Adults 2008 .........................................................................1 1 Age Age Distribution of Adult Nones and U.S. Adults 2008 .........................................................................1 1 Marital Marital Status of Adult Nones and U.S. Adults 2008 .........................................................................2 2 Racial Racial and Ethnic Composition of Adult Nones and U.S. Adults 1990 and 2008 .......................................................3 3 Selected Selected Ancestry of Adult Nones 2008 ...........................................3 3 Educational Educational Attainment of Nones and U.S. Adults 4 Age 25 Years and Over, 1990 and 2008 .........................................4 Household Household Income Distribution of Adult Nones and U.S. Adults 2008 .........................................................................4 4 Political Political Party Preference of Adult Nones and U.S. Adults 1990 and 2008 .......................................................5 5 B. Origins B. Origins ...........................................................................................................................6 6 Figure Figure 1.9 Figure Figure 1.10 Family Family Background of Adult Nones 2008 .........................................6 6 Religious Religious Background of Nones and U.S. Adults 2008 .........................................................................7 7 C. Geography C. Geography ....................................................................................................................9 9 Figure Figure 1.11 Figure Figure 1.12 Geographic Geographic Distribution of Nones and U.S. Adults 2008 .........................................................................9 9 Percentage Percentage Distribution of the None Population by Census Division 2008 .................................................................10 10 American Nones: The Profile of the No Religion Population Contents Contents Part Profile Part I Profile of the No Religion (None) Population 2008 D. Belief, Behavior................................................................................11 D. Belief, Belonging, and Behavior 11 Figure Figure 1.13 Figure Figure 1.14 Figure Figure 1.15 Figure Figure 1.16 Figure Figure 1.17 Regarding Regarding the existence of God, do you think…? .................................................................................11 11 Do Do you think that a horoscope can predict your future? ..................................................................12 12 Do Do you think that human beings, as we know them, developed from earlier species of animals?...................................12 12 Life Life Cycle Rituals of the Nones and U.S. Adults 2008 ..............................................................................13 13 Belonging, Belonging, Belief, and Behavior by SubSub-groups of Nones and U.S. Adults .............................................14 14 Part The Part II The Nones Amongst US Figure Figure 2.1 Figure Figure 2.2 Figure Figure 2.3 Nones SocioNones as a Percentage of Socio-demographic Categories in the U.S. Adult Population, 1990 and 2008 ...............................17 17 Nones Nones as a Percentage of the Population by U.S. Census Division 2008 .........................................................18 18 State State Rankings by Percentage None 2008 .......................................19 19 Part The 1990Part III The Growth of the None Population in the United States, 1990-2008 Figure Figure 3.1 The The Growth of the Adult None Population 19901990-2008 .......................................................................................20 Conclusion..........................................................................................................................................21 The Authors........................................................................................................................................23 i American American Nones: The Profile of the No Religion Population Introduction One of the most widely noted findings from the American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS 2008), which was released in March 2009, was the substantial increase in the No Religion segment of the U.S. population, whom we designate as “Nones.” The Nones increased from 8.1% of the U.S. adult population in 1990 to 15% in 2008 and from 14 to 34 million adults. Their numbers far exceed the combined total of all the non-Christian religious groups in the U.S. Who exactly are the Nones? “None” is not a movement, but a label for a diverse group of people who do not identify with any of the myriad of religious options in the American religious marketplace – the irreligious, the unreligious, the anti-religious, and the anti-clerical. Some believe in God; some do not. Some may participate occasionally in religious rituals; others never will. Nones are easily misunderstood. On the one hand, only a small minority are atheists. On the other hand, it is also not correct to describe them as “unchurched” or “unaffiliated” on the assumption that they are mainly theists and religious searchers who are temporarily between congregations. Yet another incorrect assumption is that large proportions of Nones are anti-rationalist proponents of New Age and supernatural ideas. As we will show, they are more likely to be rational skeptics. The aim of this report is to provide detailed evidence and reliable statistics on just who the Nones are, their sentiments, the process by which they have grown, and their place in contemporary American society. Data from 1990 is presented to highlight selected characteristics where change over time is particularly notable. We also try to predict the future trajectory of the Nones and so their likely impact on where society is headed. American American Nones: The Profile of the No Religion Population ii Methodological Note The American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) 2008 is a random digit dialed (RDD) survey of a nationally representative sample of 54,461 adults. Of those, 7,047 are Nones, or individuals who responded to the question: What is your religion, if any? with “none,” “atheist,” “agnostic,” “secular,” or “humanist.” For these 7,047 people, basic socio-demographic information was collected (e.g., age, sex, etc.). A randomly selected, nationally representative subset of those 7,047 cases, 1,106 people, was asked an additional series of questions on behaviors and opinions that provide further insights into the profile of Nones. The subset is a nationally representative “silo” of Nones. Additionally, a random subset of the overall 54,461 participants totaling 1,015 individuals were asked some of the same questions as the None silo. This “national silo” is a random subsample and is representative of the general U.S. adult population. The 1990 data in this report are from the National Survey of Religious Identification; a nationally representative sample of 113,713 adults among whom 9,899 self -identified with one of the above None categories. The sampling error for the full ARIS 2008 is +/- 0.31%. For the No Religion sub-sample, the sampling error is +/- 2.38%. For further information on the ARIS series methodology see: or Barry A. Kosmin and Ariela Keysar, Religion in a Free Market: Religious and Non-Religious Americans, Ithaca, NY, Paramount Market Publishing, 2006. The data collection for the ARIS series was conducted by ICR - International Communications Research of Media, PA. 1 American American Nones: The Profile of the No Religion Population Part Part I Profile of the No Religion (None) Population 2008 A. SOCIOSOCIO A. SOCIO-DEMOGRAPHICS There are some characteristics that distinguish the Nones from the general U.S. population, but two stand out, gender and age. Nones are disproportionately male, 60%, while women actually make up a slight majority of the general U.S. population, 51% (see Figure 1.1). Additionally, Nones are significantly younger than the general population: 30% are under age 30 and only 5% are 70 years or older (see Figure 1.2). The median age of adult Nones is 41 years, compared to 46 years in the general U.S. population. These two demographic differences help explain some of the other ways in which Nones differ from the general U.S. population. Figure Figure 1.1 Gender Gender Distribution of Adult Nones and U.S. Adults 2008 U.S. U.S. Adults (N= 54,461) 49 49 51 51 Nones Nones (N= 7,047) 60 60 40 40 0% 0% 20% 40% Male Male 60% Female 80% 100% Figure 1.2 Figure Age Distribution of Adult Nones and U.S. Adults 2008 Age U.S. U.S. Adults (N= 54,461) 22 22 38 38 28 28 12 12 Nones Nones (N= 7,047) 30 30 42 42 23 23 5 0% 0% 20% 40% 1818 18-29 3030-49 60% 5050-69 70+ 80% 100% Figure 1.3 contrasts the marital statuses of Nones and the general U.S. population. The first two columns compare the two groups without adjusting for the difference in ages between them. Based on these numbers, Nones are more likely to be single and never married and less likely to be married or widowed. However, that is largely because they are younger. The right half of Figure 1.3 presents American American Nones: The Profile of the No Religion Population 2 Figure Figure 1.3 Marital Marital Status of Adult Nones and U.S. Adults 2008 Unadjusted Unadjusted Percentage Nones Nones Single, Never Married Married Divorced/Separated Widowed Total Total 39 45 11 3 100% 100% U.S. Adults 25 53 13 7 100% AgeAge-Adjusted Percentage Nones Nones 33 49 12 6 100% 100% U.S. Adults 28 52 12 8 100% the two groups as if they had an identical age structure. When this is done, the differences in marital status shrink, though they do not disappear entirely. Nones are still less likely to be married and more likely to be single and never married, but not substantially so. Of note, there is no difference in divorce rates between the two groups when adjusted for age. That there are relatively minor differences in marital status between Nones and the general U.S. population once age is taken into account introduces an important finding in this report: In many respects, Nones are growing very similar to the general U.S. population. As any numerical minority increases in size it regresses to the mean or becomes more like the majority. Thus, as Nones increased from 8% to 15% of the U.S. population, they became more representative of the average population. The growing similarity of Nones to the general U.S. population is seen also in the racial and ethnic composition of Nones, as shown in Figure 1.4. In all, whites are slightly more likely to be Nones while blacks are slightly less likely, but the differences are relatively small. That blacks, who are generally considered to be the most religious racial/ethnic group in the U.S., make up 8% of the None population suggests that this shift in the religious marketplace is widespread and penetrating deeply into traditionally religious populations. The most striking change among the racial and ethnic groups is among Hispanics. In 1990 they comprised 6% of U.S. adults and 4% of adult Nones. In 2008 Hispanics doubled their percentage of the U.S. adult population to 13% and tripled their proportion among adult Nones to 12%. This means that Hispanics are not only the fastest growing racial group in America in general, but are the fastest-growing minority group among Nones. This, too, is a noteworthy finding considering the stereotype of Latinos as a deeply religious population. Figure 1.5 presents some rather interesting data about the ethnicity of Nones within the non- 3 American American Nones: The Profile of the No Religion Population Figure Figure 1.4 Racial and Ethnic Composition of Adult Nones and U.S. Adults 1990 and 2008 Racial 1990 1990 (N= 113,713) 77 13 13 6 4 U.S U.S Adults 2008 2008 (N= 54,461) 69 69 11 11 13 13 25 1990 1990 (N= 9,899) 80 80 10 10 4 6 Nones Nones 2008 2008 (N= 7,047) 72 72 8 12 12 3 5 0% 0% 20% White White 40% Black Black Hispanic Hispanic 60% Asia Asia Other 80% 100 Figure Figure 1.5 Selected Selected Ancestry (Single and Multiple) of Adult Nones 2008 Percent Percent of Nones (N= 1006) Irish British1 Italian Jewish2 1 2 33 20 20 9 4 Persons of British ancestry includes British, English, Scottish, and Welsh. See ARIS Special Report The Changing Profile of American Jews 1990-2008 available at: Hispanic white population. Individuals of Irish descent make up 33% of Nones, which is a much larger percentage than the 12% who claim some Irish ancestry in the general population according to the 2008 American Community Survey. Likewise, individuals of British and Italian descent make up a disproportionate percentage of the None population. While not every possible ethnic or cultural ancestry was asked about in ARIS 2008, these findings do seem somewhat surprising. Interestingly the Irish and Jewish Nones had the most balanced gender ratios i.e., above average numbers of women. The Nones of Irish descent were not particularly unique in other ways, but many did report being raised Catholic, which may help explain their disproportionate representation among the Nones (see Figure 1.10). American American Nones: The Profile of the No Religion Population 4 Figure Figure 1.6 Educational Attainment of Nones and U.S. Adults Age 25 Years and Over 1990 and 2008 Educational Percent Percent of Nones 1990 1990 (N= 9,899) Percent of U.S. Adults 2008 2008 1990 1990 (N= 113,713) 2008 2008 (N= 54,461) (N= 7,047) Less than High School High School Graduate Some College College Graduate Post Graduate Other/Refused Total Total 19 30 22 19 10 <1 100% 100% 17 25 24 20 11 3 100% 23 34 19 15 7 2 100% 100% 15 27 26 17 9 6 100% Figure Figure 1.7 Household Income Distribution of Adult Nones and U.S. Adults 2008 Household U.S. U.S. Adults (N= 54,461) 53 53 47 47 Nones Nones (N= 7,047) 52 52 48 48 0% 20% 40% Over Over $50,000 60% Under $50,000 80% 100% Also reflective of the growing “normalization” of Nones are the relatively minor differences in socio -economic characteristics between them and the general population. Figure 1.6 compares Nones and the U.S. population on educational attainment and Figure 1.7 compares the two groups on household income. While there are slight variations in educational attainment, what is really notable is that the differences are virtually negligible. The greatest difference between the two groups in any particular category is 3 percentage points. Also included in Figure 1.6 are the respective numbers on this variable for the two groups in 1990. It was clear in 1990 that Nones were more educated than the general U.S. adult population. While that is still the case today for university graduation rates, the gap has narrowed. There is also no significant difference in the median household incomes of the two groups in Figure 5 American American Nones: The Profile of the No Religion Population Figure Figure 1.8 Political Party Preference of Adult Nones and U.S. Adults 1990 and 2008 Political 1990 1990 (N= 113,713) 35 35 29 29 29 29 7 U.S U.S Adults 2008 2008 (N= 54,461) 34 34 24 24 31 31 11 11 1990 1990 (N= 9,899) 27 27 21 21 42 42 10 10 Nones Nones 2008 2008 (N= 7,047) 34 34 13 13 42 42 11 11 0% 0% 20% Democrat Democrat 40% Republican Republican 60% Independent Independent 80% Other/Refused/DK Other/Refused/DK 100% 1.7. Controlling for age does not change these percentages (not shown). The lack of substantial differences between Nones and the U.S. population on these two characteristics supports the assertion that Nones in the U.S. have grown increasingly similar to the general U.S. population in the last two decades in terms of social class. One area where Nones do differ from the general U.S. population is in their pattern of political party preference. A plurality (42%) of the Nones consider themselves independents; 34% Democrats; and 13% Republicans. In the general population, 29% consider themselves independents, 34% Democrats; and 24% Republicans. (See Figure 1.8.) From 1990 to 2008, there was a shift among Nones away from Republicans to Democrats. In the general population, the shift away from Republicans was more toward independents than toward Democrats. Because the Nones grew substantially in absolute numbers during that time, we cannot say whether this was a widespread defection from the Republican Party or a growing affinity for the Democrats by new None voters. American American Nones: The Profile of the No Religion ...
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  • Spring '08
  • SULLIVAN
  • Sociology, ........., World population, Nones Nones

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