Attitudes and Beliefs

ACC researches how demographic behavior affects the distribution of beliefs and attitudes within the population

The ACC group has worked on quantitative analyses of age-variation in attitudes, religions, and beliefs. Although there has been a massive interest in the topic of religion and demography (particularly in terms of religious futures), very little scientific work had been conducted in this field. In an attempt to fill this gap in the literature, we have compiled a large database on religion and values covering 199 nations and comprised of more than 2500 censuses, surveys, and data sources. Employing this database, we estimated religious and belief distributions across world regions, by country, and through subnational analyses as well as by age and sex. We also assessed religious fertility differentials, intergenerational transmissions, conversions, migration, and population momentum effects.

We have conducted in-depth studies of Austria (Goujon et al. 2007), Spain (Stonawski et al. 2010), and the US (Goujon, Malenfant, and Skirbekk 2013). Ongoing work will examine additional nations such as Canada and Nigeria. We also focus on region-wide changes and implications (E. Kaufmann, Goujon, and Skirbekk 2011) as well as study specific populations such as the global Chinese diaspora (Skirbekk et al. 2012). We have examined the future of individual religions, concentrating first on Islam (PEW 2011) and soon moving to all other world religions. Furthermore, we have documented the world in terms of religion, publishing on the global religious landscape (PEW 2012) as well as estimating and projecting values on issues such as abortion, divorce, and homosexuality (E. Kaufmann, Goujon, and Skirbekk 2011; E. P. Kaufmann and Skirbekk 2012).

ACC set up a new journal (Yearbook of International Religious Demography) and collaborated with UNESCO (on a project related to global citizenship education – where we advocated using quantitative assessments). This has resulted in new study, where we provide an overview of Measuring Global Citizenship Education, focusing on definitions, methodological advances, and data. We present an assessment of some of the existing initiatives for the measurement of Global Citizenship Education and make suggestions for how to move towards a globally consistent measure. Although there is some disagreement over how to measure global citizenship and global citizenship education, we also find consensus on several aspects of the concept. We are proposing to construct a composite indicator consisting of three complementary levels – the societal level (e.g., the level of democracy, macro level indicators of openness), the supplier level (e.g., provision of education, availability of training relevant for global citizenship), and the receiver level (civic identity, values, skills, and knowledge). We conclude that one potential cost-effective approach could be to integrate evidence from several nationally representative surveys, providing us with world-wide coverage. We also discuss the feasibility and benefits of this measurement approach as well as its challenges.

The ACC team is currently working on health and religion (how faith can affect ability to recognize and deal with different types of risk factors and illnesses), cultural diversity, and the ability to cope with collective challenges (global environmental challenges such as climate change, fresh-water scarcity, and atmospheric pollution, require collaboration, trust, and willingness to pay). We also examine how differences in culture may have influenced demographic growth over time. Further, we study how attitudes to family formation and family behavior may affect energy use and greenhouse gas emissions through demographic change.

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Last edited: 07 April 2014

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