Friday, September 14, 2012

Friday Journal Club - The Religiosity of Immigrants in Europe

by Salman Hameed

Here is a paper by Van Tubergen and Sindradóttir: The Religiosity of Immigrants in Europe: A Cross-National Study published in the Journal of Scientific Study of Religion in June 2011 (Volume 50, Issue 2, pages 272–288).


The paper used European Social Survey (2002-2008) for more than 10,000 first-generation immigrants living in 27 European countries to look at their religiosity as measured by religious attendance, prayer frequency and vis subjective religiosity (the last parameter is measured on a scale ranging from 0 (not at all religious) to 10 (very religious)). 

There are a number of ways they look at the data and test out various hypotheses. Since we have been interested in looking at Muslim immigrants to Europe, I will pick a few results that are directly or tangentially related to that. 

Perhaps not surprisingly, there is substantial variation in the religiosity of immigrants across Europe. Interestingly, this variation is more pronounced using the religious attendance parameter as compared to praying and subjective religiosity.

In case you are interested in looking at the results directly, here is a table that summarizes their it for each country in the study (click on it to see it more clearly): 

Unfortunately, at least in this study, the authors did not separate out religions. I was curious about that as different religions would map out differently for religiosity measures, such as religious attendance. However, in an analysis not included in this paper, they did find that there were no significant differences in religious subjectivity across Islam, Catholicism and Eastern Orthodox - the three major religions in the sample with 1000 immigrants or more. In addition,  Muslim immigrants prayed more than the other two groups, but Muslims and Catholic do not differ significantly in weekly religious attendance.

But I am surprised at their finding that including religious affiliations do not impact the findings at the individual level nor at the country level for the unemployment rate, income inequality, and religious diversity. 

So what might be the reason for cross-national variation? 
[T]he cross-national variation in the religiosity of immigrants is the result of bothcomposition effects (i.e., differential sorting) and context effects. Thus, according to the results of our multilevel analysis, cross-national differences are partly due to country differences in the sorting of immigrant groups and country differences in the length of stay of immigrants, their educational level, and their employment position. Over and above these composition effects, however, characteristics of the receiving countries are also important.We elaborated on previous cross-national research on immigrant religiosity (Connor 2010; van Tubergen 2006). Connor’s (2010) study, based on a subsample of Muslim immigrants, found that a less welcoming receiving context was associated with higher religious outcomes. In our study, we find a very strong statistical and substantive effect of the religiosity of the native-born population on the religiosity of immigrants. Immigrants who moved to highly religious countries like Poland are more religious themselves.

This is where I would expect to see differences between different religions. For example, there has to be a difference between Catholic immigrants moving to Poland versus say Muslim immigrants moving to the same country. I have not worked with large datasets such as these, but I wonder if these variations are washed out in the larger trends. 

Overall, the authors find that religiosity is "higher among immigrants who are unemployed, less educated, and who have recently arrived in the host country". It will be interesting to see if there are exceptions to this trend and how they stack up with the various models of immigration integration in place in Europe. For example, just this past week, we looked at the religiosity of Turkish and Moroccan-Dutch Muslims in the Netherlands, and saw that mosque attendance was up for higher educated, second generation Muslims. Some of this was the result of ethnic residential segregation and some might be attributed to the tensions between minority Muslims and the secular Dutch majority. In fact, the dataset used by Tubergen and Sindradóttir can check this as it contains second generation data as well. It is quite possible that other papers are in the pipeline and we'll get a chance to see the analysis then.

In any case, an interesting paper.

You can find past Irtiqa Friday Journal Clubs here.

Van Tubergen, F and Sindradóttir, J, I (2011) , 
The Religiosity of Immigrants in Europe: A Cross-National StudyJournal for the Scientific Study of Religion (Volume 50, Issue 2, pages 272–288; DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-5906.2011.01567.x)


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