UK has some of lowest belief levels in the world, study finds

Godless Britain: UK has some of lowest belief levels in the world with just a THIRD religious and Gen Z most likely to be atheist – but nearly half are convinced there is life after death

Brits are among the least likely in the world to believe in God, according to a major study.

Under half stated they were convinced about the existence of a higher power, compared to three-quarters four decades ago.

Levels were lower in just five of the 24 nations covered in the research, led by the Policy Institute at King’s College London.

China was by far the lowest on just 17 per cent. By contrast 100 per cent believed in God in the Philippines, and 99 per cent in Iran, Nigeria and Morocco.

Generation Z had the biggest proportion of atheists at 31 per cent – but the figures have been rising steadily across age groups. 

When the study began in 1981 just 7 per cent of Baby Boomers were definite about there being no God, a threshold that had reached 22 per cent by 2022 when the data was last collected in the UK.

In 1981, 57 per cent of Brits considered themselves religious but that has nearly halved to 32 per cent. 

Despite the general drift away from religion, belief in life after death has remained fairly solid – at 46 per cent in the most recent survey.

And Brits rank highly for tolerance of other faiths, with 82 per cent saying they are happy to trust people from a different religion.  

The analysis comes from the respected World Values Survey (WVS), which has ben running since 1981. 

The latest UK data were collected in 2022, with while for other nations is dates from between 2017 and 2022. 

David Voas, professor of social science at UCL, said: ‘The findings point to both the long-established erosion of religious involvement and to some interesting complexity in our self-perception and who believes what. 

‘The main story remains that most people in Britain aren’t very interested in religion. 

‘That said, the glass remains half full when it comes to belief in God or life after death. 

‘Adults under 40 are much more likely than older people to call themselves atheists, but also to say that they believe in hell, which is a fascinating puzzle. 

‘While the British seem comfortable with their widely shared lack of religiosity, they have little objection to others being different, at least so long as religion doesn’t intrude into public affairs.’ 

Bobby Duffy, professor of public policy and director of the Policy Institute at King’s College London, said: ‘Our cultural attachment to organised religion has continued to decline in the UK – but our belief that there is something beyond this life is holding strong, including among the youngest generations. 

‘This reflects a long-term pattern, where those who feel actively connected to organised religions have moved from a ‘conscript’ army in previous decades, where many more felt it was an automatic part of life, to a more ‘professional’ army, which are fewer in number but more dedicated in practice. 

‘This is an important period in the development of religiosity and spirituality in western countries like the UK, where the findings show that while the youngest generations continue to have lower attachment to formal religion, many of them have similar or even greater need to believe that there is ‘more than this’. 

‘And of course, these sorts of international studies show that the decline of organised religion is not really a global story at all – as it continues to grow and flourish in many countries around the world, and these changes are really constrained to countries like the UK.’