People assume that individuals return to religion as they age — but a simple cohort analysis undercuts that simple notion.
This is the share who are nones in 2008 vs. 2021 by birth cohort. In every cohort save for one, the percentage who are nones rose noticeably over the last 13 years. There’s no statistical evidence that any age group has returned to active participation in a religious tradition.
What makes all this analysis possible is large datasets that are publicly available.
Some larger data — like the Cooperative Election Study — have been conducted since 2008. But imagine what social scientists will be able to do in 30 years when they can track cohorts with very large sample sizes as they go through every life stage from college to retirement. What tremendous insights that will provide for the journalists, religious leaders and the American public, in general.
It’s a great time to be a quantitative social scientist. Journalists need to know that this kind of information is out there, waiting to be covered in the news.
FIRST IMAGE: Uncredited graphic with “Workforce Generations: Who is next?” feature on the Rome Business School website.