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

David Voas*, Siobhan McAndrew, Ingrid Storm

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)259-283
Number of pages25
JournalKolner Zeitschrift fur Soziologie und Sozialpsychologie
Issue number1 SUPPL.
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • Europe
  • Gender
  • Modernization
  • Religion
  • Secularization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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