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religiously unaffiliated population is younger, more heavily male and more
likely to be single than the general public as a whole. About a third of
unaffiliated adults (35%) are under age 30, compared with about one-in-five
adults in the general population (22%). A higher percentage of the unaffiliated
population is made up of men (56%) than women (44%), while the general public
is 48% male and 52% female. Religiously unaffiliated Americans are more likely
than U.S. adults as a whole to be living with a partner or never married. About
four-in-ten of the unaffiliated are married (39%), compared with about half of
the general public (51%). On average, however, the education and income levels
of the unaffiliated are roughly the same as those in the general public.
religiously unaffiliated are relatively young compared with the general public.
About seven-in-ten people who describe themselves as unaffiliated are under age
50 (72%), compared with 56% of the general public as a whole. And
35% of the unaffiliated are 18 to 29 years old, compared with 22% of the
general public and 18% of U.S. adults who have a religious affiliation.
Conversely, 8% of the unaffiliated are 65 and older, compared with 18% of the
general public and 19% of those with a religious affiliation.
the unaffiliated, atheists and agnostics are particularly young in comparison
with other religious groups. A plurality of atheists and agnostics (42%) are
ages 18 to 29, and just 9% are 65 and older. By comparison, about one-fifth of
the religiously affiliated (18%) are ages 18 to 29, and a similar portion are
65 and older (19%).
a group, the unaffiliated are roughly similar to the general public on education
and income. Among the unaffiliated, however, atheists and agnostics stand out
from those who say their religion is “nothing in particular.”
three-in-ten of the religiously unaffiliated have at least a college degree (31%),
slightly higher than among the general public overall (28%). And the annual family
income of the unaffiliated as a whole roughly matches that of the general
and agnostics, however, are higher on these socioeconomic measures than other
unaffiliated Americans and the general public. Fully 44% of atheists and
agnostics have at least a college degree, compared with 26% of those who say
their religion is ”nothing in particular” and 28% of the general public. And
about 38% of atheists and agnostics have an annual family income of at least $75,000,
compared with 29% of the general public. Those who say their religion is “nothing
in particular” line up more closely with the general public on family income
Race and Ethnicity
compared with those who are religiously affiliated, the unaffiliated population
contains a slightly larger percentage of non-Hispanic whites (71% of the
unaffiliated vs. 68% of the religiously affiliated). Non-Hispanic blacks make
up a slightly smaller share of the unaffiliated (9%) than they do of the religiously
affiliated (12%). Hispanics make up 11% of the unaffiliated, compared with 14%
of the religiously affiliated.
and agnostics are particularly likely to be non-Hispanic whites. Fully
eight-in-ten atheists and agnostics (82%) are white, 3% are black, 6% are
Hispanic, and the remainder is of some other race or of mixed race. Those who
say their religion is “nothing in particular” have a racial and ethnic distribution
that closely mirrors that of the general public.
unaffiliated population is more male than the general public. Among the
unaffiliated as a whole, 56% are men and 44% are women. Among the general
public overall, 48% are men and 52% are women.
and agnostics are much more likely to be male (64%) than female (36%).
Americans who identify their religion as “nothing in particular” are more
evenly divided: 53% are men, and 47% are women.
who are affiliated with a religion, by contrast, are somewhat more likely to be
women (53%) than men (47%).
with the general public, the religiously unaffiliated are somewhat more
concentrated in the Western U.S. (30% among the unaffiliated vs. 23% among the
general public) and less concentrated in the South (28% vs. 37%).
particularly white evangelical and black Protestants, are particularly likely
to live in the South.
with Protestants, Catholics are distributed more evenly across the four regions
of the country.
four-in-ten of the religiously unaffiliated are married (39%), compared with
about half of the general public (51%).
difference is not merely an artifact of the higher concentration of young
people among the unaffiliated. Even among those ages 18 to 29, there are fewer
married people among the religiously unaffiliated (12%) than among those with
an affiliation (23%).