A recent poll by the Pew Research Center found Americans and Europeans differ significantly in their value on religion, although the gap may be narrowing over time.
The study, which combined information aggregated from surveys conducted in the U.S. in 2014 and Europe in 2015, found that 53 percent of Americans believe religion to be very important in their lives, according to Pew. By contrast, only 28 percent of people living in Poland, which held the highest value on religion out of all EU countries polled, said the same. In France, only 14 percent of survey participants view religion as very important.
The results indicate that the U.S. breaks a global pattern of correlation between wealth and religious belief. A 2015 Pew study that used economic data gathered from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund throughout 2014 and 2015 found that people living in nations with higher incomes per capita tended to place less value on religion.
For example, only around 20 percent of respondents in countries like Germany and Australia, which have some of the highest global GDPs per capita, said religion was “very important” to them. In countries including Senegal and Ethiopia, which have some of the lowest GDPs per capita, that number was closer to 100 percent. The U.S. was an outlier in the study, with one of the highest GDPs per capita in the world, but also a relatively strong emphasis on religion, just under the global median of 55 percent.
The results of the study come at a time when the importance of religion in the lives of Americans is shrinking, indicating that the gap between the religious opinions of the U.S. and Europe may soon be smaller than it is today. A similar Pew study conducted in 2007 found that 56 percent of Americans said religion was very important to them in that year, three percent lower than today’s population.