More Prone to Believe in God than Identify as Religious. More Likely to Believe in Heaven than in Hell.

  • 2022

Two thirds of respondents around the world claim they are religious. Slightly more people believe in God and there is a life after death – according to a majority around the world. A majority also agree that there is a heaven and hell (although we are more confident in the “Good place” than the “Bad one”). Whether religious or not most people seem to believe that there is some mighty power beyond our understanding – a God.

Religious beliefs are more influenced by education, age and personal income.

These are some of the highlights from the special poll conducted by Gallup International Association (GIA) in 61 countries covering over two thirds of the global population (and more than 90% of those countries which are free to conduct and publish opinion research). The poll celebrates GIA’s 75th anniversary.  

Religious affiliation around the world.

Two thirds (62%) of respondents around the world say they are religious, with one in four saying that they are not religious.  Atheists account for 10%.  The rest are not sure.

A few years ago (2016), GIA asked the same question. Overall attitudes towards religion seem relatively stable, as in 2016 again two thirds (62%) said they were religious and 25% that they were not. Atheists were 9%.  It’s a similar pattern in the same questions also asked in 2014.
Our current wave of polling further confirms that age, income, and education seem to be important defining demographics for one’s religiosity. The higher the income and education, the lower the likelihood is that someone will self-define as a religious person. The lower the age – the higher is the declared religiosity.

People in EU and East Asia and Oceania are the least religious with shares of around 40% confirming religiosity. People of Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and non-EU European countries on the other hand express much stronger religious affiliation (as much as 90% in some countries)

These attitudes in different regions remain stable. In 2014 and 2016, Africa and the Middle East stood out as most religious regions, according to people’s personal declarations. Western Europe, Asia, Oceania were regions where people defined themselves much less as religious. Asia was once again the region with the largest number of atheists.   

Some major countries such as USA and Russia show a slight shift in their citizens’ religious attitudes over recent years. For instance, 56% (US) and 70% (Russia) of people in 2014 said they were religious. Two years later the US remains the same while Russia drops to 61%. Today the share of those who define themselves as religious is almost equal – 60% in the States and 62% in Russia.

Our most religious countries in the survey now are Kenya, Senegal, Pakistan, Ethiopia and Kosovo. Least religious are people in Japan, Czech Republic, Sweden and Vietnam.