|Inelastic Georgian Orthodoxy|
30/07/2012 01:29 (293 Day 07:22 minutes ago)
The FINANCIAL -- Georgia is well known as a religious country; the patriarchy plays an important role in politics and culture, pedestrians and marshrutka riders routinely cross themselves as they pass religious sites, and taxi cab drivers cover their dashboards in “Georgian airbags” (Icons).
It may surprise you to know, then, that Georgians are not among the top 10 most religious countries in the world. Georgians are not even the most religious orthodox population, being beaten to that title by Romania, Macedonia, and Armenia.
The WIN-Gallup International “Religiosity and Atheism Index,” which measures global self-perceptions on beliefs, is based on interviews with more than 50,000 men and women selected from 57 countries across the globe in five continents. Each respondent was asked whether they consider themselves “a religious person” or not. The option was also given for “a convinced atheist.” Georgian Opinion Research Business International conducted the Georgian portion of the survey, and found that 84% of Georgians consider themselves to be religious people, and only 1% are “convinced atheist.”
Globally, sizeable majorities claim to be religious; the global average is 59%. Most others (23%) claim to be “not-religious,” but stop short of defining themselves as “atheist”; only 13% claim to be convinced atheists. These non-believers are mostly concentrated in East Asia, where 47% of the Chinese and 31% of the Japanese say they are atheists; and Western Europe, where 14% of the population says the same.
Looking at the top and bottom 5 countries, you might be shocked to see Turkey next to Sweden and Czech Republic. Both Turkey and Hong Kong show notable change since 2005, which have yet to be explained. These changes are not from a faith to atheism but a shift from self-description of being ‘Religious’ to ‘Not Religious’. WIN-Gallup International has requested researchers in both countries to investigate reasons which might explain this extra-ordinary shift.
Inelastic Georgian Orthodoxy
It is interesting that religiosity declines as the worldly prosperity of the individuals rises. While the results for nations as a whole are mixed, individual respondents within a country show a revealing pattern. If citizens of each of the 57 countries are grouped into five groups, from the relatively poor to relatively rich in their own countries, we find that the richest of each country are less likely to be religious than the poorest.
The same pattern is applicable to formal educational attainment: as formal education level rises, fewer self-describe themselves as religious. These relationships are not terribly surprising; they are almost as well documented as relationships between education and wealth.
Georgians, though, present a quite different case. Based on these data, Georgians’ religiosity is not strongly correlated to either wealth or education.
Even though Georgia is not the most religious of all nations, it may be among the most consistently religious. Those who are the least educated in Georgia are also the least likely to claim to be “a religious person.” The same can be said for the relationship between religiosity and income. The correlation between the two is very weak, with a coefficient of -.09, and nonlinear. This is quite contradictory to the rest of the world, suggesting that there is some special quality to the religiousness of Georgians.
There are two things that are important to note when discussing these comparisons. First, due to very few people in Georgia having “basic education,” our margins of error for that population are very high. Only 1% of the sample has basic education, making their margin of error just over 30%. Therefore, their religiosity could be as high as 75% for this survey.
Second, the distribution of wealth in Georgia may not be the same distribution used by WIN-Gallup International. I generated a distribution based on the Georgian data set as I was unable to find what data was used in the global set, so the income cut-offs may not line up. These caveats do not invalidate the key points, however, of the apparent inelasticity of Georgian religiosity. In further studies, I will pay close attention to how self-identification matches different demographics, trying to shed some more light on the religiosity of the always-surprising Georgian people.
This poll was conducted for WIN-Gallup International by GORBI in December of 2011, including 1000 Georgians. This analysis contains data with margins of error ranging from 3-5%, excepting the previously mentioned outlier.