Women More Devout Than Men: Study

Gender gap in Pew study may be explained by both nature and nurture
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 23, 2016 5:45 PM CDT
Women More Devout Than Men: Study
Women lead the way in global devoutness.   (Shutterstock)

Every pope, Jesus, Moses, Muhammad, and most other major religious leaders have been men, and many religions have either only recently let up restrictions on women officiants or continue to ban them, the Guardian notes. Yet a new study from the Pew Research Center finds that women are the ones who are more devout in their faith, especially Christians. About 83.4% of women around the world say they identify with a religious group, while only 79.9% of men do, per 2010 figures—that's about 97 million more women than men. The "Gender Gap in Religion Around the World" report administered surveys in 192 countries and territories and found women make up 54% of individuals identifying as Buddhists, 53% of Christians, and 52% of Jews; Muslim adherents are split down the middle, while men have a slight advantage in the numbers among Hindus and traditional/folk religions (51% to women's 49%).

The group that claimed no religion affiliation (e.g., atheists, agnostics, and those who say they're "nothing in particular") is made up of 55% men, 45% women. Christian women also attend religious services more often in 81 countries surveyed for that particular question (though men head out to worship more if they're Orthodox Jews or Muslims), and women pray more both in public and private, according to surveys in 84 countries. The genders in 63 countries are generally about even in whether they believe in heaven, hell, and angels. So what accounts for this gender gap among the devout? While the report notes there's no definitive agreement, religious scholars have pointed to a variety of both nature and nurture factors, including "biology, psychology, genetics, family environment, social status, [and] workforce participation," as well as "a lack of 'existential security'" woman may experience because they're more likely than men to be adversely affected by poverty, sickness, old age, and violence. (Here, the 11 least religious US cities.)

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