Religiously Unaffiliated Youth in Europe: Shifting Remnants of Belief and Practice in Contexts of Diffused Religion and Cohort Decline

Autores: José Pereira Coutinho e Sarah Wilkins Laflamme


This study investigates the remnants and dynamics of religious beliefs and practices among religiously unaffiliated youth in Europe, comparing them with the older unaffiliated as well as with the religiously affiliated. Using EVS 2017–2021 data to test contrasting hypotheses of diffused religion and cohort replacement, the study draws three main conclusions. First, youth believe more on average and older age groups believe less when it comes to eschatological beliefs among both the unaffiliated and the affiliated. Second, youth practice less and older age groups practice more on average among both the unaffiliated and the affiliated. Third, the gaps in levels of religious beliefs and practices remain between the religiously unaffiliated and the religiously affiliated among younger populations, but this gap is now narrower for religious practices. Results confirm both hypotheses (diffused religion and cohort replacement) depending on the dimensions of religiosity at study.