March 22, 2016

The Gender Gap in Religion Around the World

About this report

This report uses data collected by Pew Research Center. To analyze gender differences in religious affiliation, it draws on estimates of religious composition in 192 countries and territories published in the Center’s April 2015 report, “The Future of World Religions: Population Growth Projections, 2010-2050.” The estimates are based on data from more than 2,500 censuses and surveys.

To compare men and women on other measures of religious commitment, the study uses survey data collected by Pew Research Center for the general population in 84 countries between 2008 and 2015. However, the number of countries varies for each measure because not all survey questions were asked in every country. Some of the data come from Pew Research Center’s regional studies of religious beliefs and practices. In other cases, the data come from the Center’s spring survey of Global Attitudes. For some countries, more than one survey is used in order to incorporate more measures than would be possible using a single survey. Additional details about these surveys are listed in the Methodology. Appendix C lists the sources used for each country in every part of this report.

Pew Research Center surveys have shown that, at least in the United States, religious commitment varies across age groups. This report, however, does not compare varying levels of commitment among people of different ages.57

Following conventional survey norms, respondents to surveys used in this report were not usually asked directly about their gender identity, whether they were interviewed face-to-face or by telephone. Rather, interviewers coded interviewees as male or female.58

When this report discusses Jewish populations in Israel and the United States, it is referring to Jews who identify as Jewish by religion, as opposed to those who identify as Jewish only by culture or ancestry and not by religion.

For more details on the research methods used in this study, see the Methodology.

  1. An analysis of Pew Research Center’s 2014 Religious Landscape Study found that in the United States, gender gaps in religious commitment when measuring weekly attendance, daily prayer and importance of religion are larger among older adults than they are among younger adults. While American women of all ages tend to be more religious than men, this difference is larger among older adults, especially those ages 50 and older. However, researchers did not find a similar age pattern in other countries in a cross-national analysis of the gender gap by age using Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes surveys and global survey of Islam. Although older adults generally are more religious than younger adults in most countries, the gender gap is not consistently wider for the young or the old.
  2. In Pew Research Center’s 2014 Religious Landscape Study, a telephone survey with more than 35,000 respondents, gender identity was measured using respondents’ self-reports. In 99% of cases, interviewers’ assessments of respondents’ gender identity matched the respondents’ self-reports.