Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Religion, the United States, Sweden, South Korea and Japan   posted by Razib @ 4/14/2009 10:59:00 PM
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It turns out that the World Values Survey has a decent web interface, rather like the GSS. As an exercise I thought I would compare 4 nations when it came to religious attitudes, the United States, Sweden, South Korea and Japan. The United States because most readers are American. Sweden because it is the apotheosis of European secularity. Japan because it is generally presumed to be an apathetic non-Western nation when it comes to religion. And South Korea, which sends more Christianity missionaries than any nation aside from the United States. The data for South Korea are usually a revelation for Americans, as we are conditioned by the dominant role of conservative Protestantism among our own ethnic Korean population, it is somewhat of a surprise when digging into the data to note that Korea is a much more secular nation than the United States.

BASE=4531
Weight [with split ups]
Country/region
Total Japan Republic of Korea Sweden United States
Religious person A religious person 44.9 % 26.5 % 30.9 % 38.9 % 82.5 %
Not a religious person 41.4 % 59.7 % 37.7 % 54.4 % 16.0 %
A convinced atheist 13.7 % 13.8 % 31.4 % 6.7 % 1.4 %
Total 4531 (100%) 1186 (100%) 1198 (100%) 968 (100%) 1180 (100%)



BASE=4586
Weight [with split ups]
Country/region
Total Japan Republic of Korea Sweden United States
How important is God in your life Not at all important 13.7 % 12.6 % 12.2 % 28.9 % 3.7 %
2 7.6 % 9.8 % 8.1 % 11.4 % 1.7 %
3 9.1 % 13.1 % 10.6 % 11.0 % 2.1 %
4 4.9 % 3.7 % 7.0 % 7.7 % 1.8 %
5 11.2 % 11.6 % 17.2 % 12.2 % 3.8 %
6 10.1 % 21.6 % 8.1 % 6.1 % 3.9 %
7 7.2 % 9.2 % 7.5 % 5.6 % 6.1 %
8 7.6 % 8.7 % 7.3 % 5.4 % 8.6 %
9 5.5 % 2.8 % 6.1 % 2.8 % 9.9 %
Very important 23.1 % 6.9 % 15.9 % 9.0 % 58.3 %
Total 4586 (100%) 1194 (100%) 1198 (100%) 996 (100%) 1198 (100%)
Base for mean 4586 1194 1198 996 1198
Mean 5.8 5.0 5.5 4.1 8.5
Standard Deviation 3.21 2.65 2.99 2.97 2.45



BASE=3874
Weight [with split ups]
Country/region
Total Japan Republic of Korea Sweden United States
Get comfort and strength from religion No 44.8 % 64.9 % 32.9 % 66.8 % 20.4 %
Yes 55.2 % 35.1 % 67.1 % 33.2 % 79.6 %
Total 3874 (100%) 950 (100%) 856 (100%) 895 (100%) 1173 (100%)



BASE=4661
Weight [with split ups]
Country/region
Total Japan Republic of Korea Sweden United States
Statement: good and evil Clear guidelines about what is good and evil 30.7 % 19.2 % 37.0 % 15.8 % 49.2 %
Depends upon circumstances at the time 64.4 % 69.3 % 63.0 % 81.0 % 46.6 %
Disagree with both 4.9 % 11.5 % - 3.2 % 4.2 %
Total 4661 (100%) 1277 (100%) 1199 (100%) 999 (100%) 1186 (100%)



BASE=4614
Weight [with split ups]
Country/region
Total Japan Republic of Korea Sweden United States
Belong to religious denomination No 35.4 % 55.6 % 36.8 % 24.2 % 21.5 %
Yes 64.6 % 44.4 % 63.2 % 75.8 % 78.5 %
Total 4614 (100%) 1267 (100%) 1196 (100%) 1015 (100%) 1136 (100%)



BASE=4752
Weight [with split ups]
Country/region
Total Japan Republic of Korea Sweden United States
How often do you attend religious services More than once a week 8.0 % 1.7 % 13.1 % 0.5 % 16.4 %
Once a week 12.9 % 2.4 % 17.1 % 3.3 % 28.8 %
Once a month 9.3 % 8.3 % 8.0 % 5.6 % 15.1 %
Only on special holy days/Christmas/Easter days 19.9 % 43.2 % 11.2 % 10.6 % 10.5 %
Once a year 14.3 % 22.1 % 6.9 % 21.4 % 7.0 %
Less often 15.5 % 13.8 % 27.6 % 13.2 % 7.5 %
Never practically never 19.9 % 8.6 % 16.0 % 45.6 % 14.8 %
Total 4752 (100%) 1343 (100%) 1198 (100%) 1013 (100%) 1198 (100%)



BASE=4384
Weight [with split ups]
Country/region
Total Japan Republic of Korea Sweden United States
Moments of prayer, meditation... No 41.5 % 60.1 % 41.1 % 56.0 % 10.7 %
Yes 58.5 % 39.9 % 58.9 % 44.0 % 89.3 %
Total 4384 (100%) 1229 (100%) 954 (100%) 1004 (100%) 1198 (100%)



BASE=4602
Weight [with split ups]
Country/region
Total Japan Republic of Korea Sweden United States
Politicians who donĀ“t believe in God are unfit for public office Agree strongly 6.3 % 2.3 % 2.9 % 1.7 % 17.8 %
Agree 9.1 % 5.5 % 7.4 % 2.3 % 20.5 %
Neither agree or disagree 31.0 % 50.8 % 30.5 % 11.5 % 26.0 %
Disagree 32.5 % 26.1 % 41.9 % 37.0 % 27.3 %
Strongly disagree 21.1 % 15.3 % 17.2 % 47.5 % 8.5 %
Total 4602 (100%) 1328 (100%) 1074 (100%) 1010 (100%) 1190 (100%)



BASE=4651
Weight [with split ups]
Country/region
Total Japan Republic of Korea Sweden United States
Religious leaders should not influence how people vote Agree strongly 28.6 % 33.0 % 25.0 % 34.3 % 22.3 %
Agree 40.5 % 41.2 % 44.4 % 33.9 % 41.5 %
Neither agree or disagree 16.2 % 20.4 % 19.1 % 10.2 % 14.1 %
Disagree 10.8 % 3.5 % 8.4 % 14.4 % 18.3 %
Strongly disagree 3.8 % 1.9 % 3.1 % 7.3 % 3.8 %
Total 4651 (100%) 1326 (100%) 1122 (100%) 1009 (100%) 1194 (100%)



BASE=4540
Weight [with split ups]
Country/region
Total Japan Republic of Korea Sweden United States
Better if more people with strong religious beliefs in public office Agree strongly 6.9 % 1.4 % 6.3 % 2.1 % 17.6 %
Agree 14.8 % 3.9 % 18.0 % 6.7 % 31.0 %
Neither agree or disagree 29.0 % 31.6 % 36.2 % 21.3 % 26.5 %
Disagree 30.4 % 36.3 % 28.2 % 38.3 % 19.2 %
Strongly disagree 18.8 % 26.7 % 11.3 % 31.6 % 5.7 %
Total 4540 (100%) 1324 (100%) 1028 (100%) 1003 (100%) 1185 (100%)



BASE=4607
Weight [with split ups]
Country/region
Total Japan Republic of Korea Sweden United States
Religious leaders should not influence government Agree strongly 24.1 % 33.1 % 20.6 % 24.4 % 17.0 %
Agree 34.7 % 39.2 % 36.7 % 27.4 % 34.0 %
Neither agree or disagree 23.0 % 22.0 % 30.3 % 20.3 % 19.7 %
Disagree 14.1 % 4.0 % 9.7 % 21.1 % 23.6 %
Strongly disagree 4.1 % 1.7 % 2.7 % 6.8 % 5.7 %
Total 4607 (100%) 1320 (100%) 1103 (100%) 995 (100%) 1189 (100%)



BASE=4718
Weight [with split ups]
Country/region
Total Japan Republic of Korea Sweden United States
Justifiable: cheating on taxes Never justifiable 68.8 % 83.5 % 74.7 % 50.7 % 62.1 %
2 11.1 % 6.2 % 11.6 % 17.1 % 11.0 %
3 6.7 % 4.0 % 6.1 % 10.0 % 7.4 %
4 3.1 % 1.5 % 2.1 % 5.4 % 4.0 %
5 4.4 % 2.4 % 2.8 % 8.3 % 5.0 %
6 1.9 % 0.7 % 1.0 % 2.5 % 3.7 %
7 1.1 % 0.1 % 0.5 % 2.4 % 1.9 %
8 1.0 % 0.3 % 0.3 % 2.1 % 1.5 %
9 0.4 % 0.2 % 0.3 % 0.5 % 0.9 %
Always justifiable 1.3 % 1.2 % 0.7 % 1.0 % 2.4 %
Total 4718 (100%) 1312 (100%) 1199 (100%) 1009 (100%) 1198 (100%)
Base for mean 4718 1312 1199 1009 1198
Mean 1.9 1.5 1.6 2.4 2.3
Standard Deviation 1.81 1.40 1.38 2.01 2.20



BASE=4724
Weight [with split ups]
Country/region
Total Japan Republic of Korea Sweden United States
Justifiable: someone accepting a bribe Never justifiable 78.4 % 83.0 % 80.2 % 68.5 % 80.0 %
2 8.7 % 5.1 % 10.3 % 13.0 % 7.4 %
3 4.7 % 3.9 % 4.7 % 7.3 % 3.6 %
4 2.3 % 1.6 % 1.8 % 3.4 % 2.8 %
5 2.6 % 3.3 % 1.6 % 2.8 % 2.6 %
6 1.0 % 1.1 % 0.3 % 1.4 % 1.2 %
7 0.7 % 0.2 % 0.5 % 1.4 % 0.7 %
8 0.7 % 0.8 % 0.1 % 1.2 % 0.7 %
9 0.3 % 0.2 % 0.3 % 0.1 % 0.4 %
Always justifiable 0.7 % 0.9 % 0.4 % 1.0 % 0.6 %
Total 4724 (100%) 1314 (100%) 1199 (100%) 1013 (100%) 1198 (100%)
Base for mean 4724 1314 1199 1013 1198
Mean 1.6 1.5 1.4 1.8 1.6
Standard Deviation 1.46 1.48 1.14 1.68 1.48



BASE=4553
Weight [with split ups]
Country/region
Total Japan Republic of Korea Sweden United States
Justifiable: homosexuality Never justifiable 31.8 % 29.8 % 52.7 % 8.7 % 31.6 %
2 5.6 % 5.7 % 9.8 % 2.8 % 3.6 %
3 6.0 % 9.2 % 7.3 % 2.8 % 4.1 %
4 4.4 % 5.3 % 4.6 % 2.4 % 4.7 %
5 13.6 % 15.8 % 11.9 % 10.0 % 16.1 %
6 7.5 % 12.0 % 3.0 % 3.3 % 11.1 %
7 4.2 % 4.1 % 3.8 % 4.3 % 4.6 %
8 5.8 % 6.6 % 3.5 % 8.4 % 5.3 %
9 3.5 % 2.2 % 1.0 % 6.6 % 4.7 %
Always justifiable 17.6 % 9.4 % 2.3 % 50.6 % 14.1 %
Total 4553 (100%) 1200 (100%) 1199 (100%) 978 (100%) 1177 (100%)
Base for mean 4553 1200 1199 978 1177
Mean 4.8 4.4 2.8 7.7 4.8
Standard Deviation 3.40 2.98 2.44 3.07 3.25



BASE=4607
Weight [with split ups]
Country/region
Total Japan Republic of Korea Sweden United States
Justifiable: abortion Never justifiable 22.3 % 14.6 % 36.9 % 5.4 % 29.7 %
2 7.0 % 7.4 % 10.8 % 1.7 % 7.0 %
3 8.5 % 12.4 % 10.2 % 4.2 % 6.2 %
4 6.0 % 7.6 % 7.1 % 3.2 % 5.5 %
5 16.6 % 21.3 % 17.1 % 11.8 % 15.4 %
6 9.9 % 14.6 % 4.8 % 7.7 % 12.2 %
7 6.4 % 6.2 % 5.5 % 8.3 % 5.8 %
8 8.2 % 8.7 % 3.8 % 14.1 % 7.1 %
9 3.7 % 2.6 % 2.2 % 8.1 % 2.9 %
Always justifiable 11.4 % 4.5 % 1.7 % 35.4 % 8.1 %
Total 4607 (100%) 1224 (100%) 1199 (100%) 993 (100%) 1191 (100%)
Base for mean 4607 1224 1199 993 1191
Mean 4.9 4.7 3.4 7.4 4.4
Standard Deviation 3.02 2.50 2.46 2.72 2.97



BASE=4630
Weight [with split ups]
Country/region
Total Japan Republic of Korea Sweden United States
Justifiable: divorce Never justifiable 9.3 % 5.5 % 21.0 % 2.1 % 7.5 %
2 3.8 % 2.8 % 7.7 % 1.3 % 2.8 %
3 5.8 % 6.5 % 8.1 % 2.0 % 6.2 %
4 5.9 % 5.3 % 7.2 % 4.8 % 6.1 %
5 20.0 % 19.3 % 23.7 % 12.2 % 23.7 %
6 12.0 % 16.5 % 8.1 % 6.4 % 15.9 %
7 7.9 % 6.7 % 7.7 % 8.0 % 9.4 %
8 10.7 % 12.1 % 6.9 % 14.0 % 10.3 %
9 6.1 % 5.8 % 4.8 % 8.9 % 5.4 %
Always justifiable 18.5 % 19.5 % 4.9 % 40.3 % 12.6 %
Total 4630 (100%) 1233 (100%) 1198 (100%) 1004 (100%) 1195 (100%)
Base for mean 4630 1233 1198 1004 1195
Mean 6.1 6.4 4.6 7.8 5.9
Standard Deviation 2.81 2.62 2.70 2.42 2.53



The data are open to many interpretations. You can actually do more fine-grained analysis, but I'll leave that for the readers. I would say:

1) South Koreans are more religious than the Japanese, but also just as starkly they are more polarized. Look at the first table and how many Koreans asserted that they were convinced atheists, as opposed to the more mellow Japanese and Swedes. Japan and Sweden are clearly more secular than South Korea, but since religious controversy isn't a feature of their public life, atheism vs. theism is less of an issue.

2) From a Western perspective the American & Swedish data are rather easy to interpret. The high rates of Swedish affiliation despite their secularity is simply due to the history of the established Lutheran church in that nation (only recently disestablished last I checked), and the customary attachment which most Swedes have to the institution. Aside from that, Sweden is secular and the United States not so much. South Korea and Japan are harder to interpret. Despite being very secular Japan is obviously rather conservative when it comes to many social mores, and Korea exhibits the same tendency. Rather than pinning down a specific explanation it is important to note that the role of institutional organized religion has been relatively marginal in these two societies until recently, and what role it did play was of low prestige compared to that in Western societies. In fact it can be argued that South Korea is simultaneously becoming a more religious and liberal society.

3) Despite the fact that Sweden has high rates of nominal affiliation to the Lutheran church, ceremonial and ritual religion seems to be a more common feature of the lives of the Japanese.

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