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Belief in God Increases With Age, Expectation of Death


A research report by the University of Chicago on belief in God across a number of countries has found that faith increases with age, but the number of those certain of the existence of God has declined, with the lowest number of faithful people reported in Japan.


The university’s National Opinion Research Center (NORC) concluded, based on analysis of surveys collected in 1991, 1998 and 2008, that when people enter old age and begin their final years, they become more convinced that there is a God – over 43 percent of those aged 68 and older claimed that certainty. However, only 23 percent of those 27 and younger said they were as confident in God’s existence.

“Looking at differences among age groups, the largest increases in belief in God most often occur among those 58 years of age and older. This suggests that belief in God is especially likely to increase among the oldest groups, perhaps in response to the increasing anticipation of mortality,” explained researcher Tom Smith in a statement.

Although there has been a slight decline in faith in the last couple of decades in most of the 30 countries surveyed, there were some exceptions – Russia, Israel and Slovenia reported an increase in the belief in God.

Europe remained with lower levels of belief than other regions around the world – strongly Catholic countries like the Philippines had a 83 percent faith rate (no doubts about God’s existence), while that number was only 7.8 percent in the East Germany region. The faith rate remained lower than 20 percent for a number of other Western European countries as well.

The lowest rate on a firm belief in God, however, was reported in Japan, where only 4.3 percent of respondents said that they know God exists.


The U.S. remained a largely faithful nation, with 60.6 percent reporting complete faith in God. When asked specifically about belief in a Personal God, as opposed to a deistic entity, that number was slightly larger – 67.5 percent of Americans said they believe in a personal God.

Difference in belief in God by age group largely reflected that younger people have less faith than older respondents – the NORC report claims that not a single person, or 0.0 percent of East Germany respondents under 27 years of age, said they know God exists.