New estimates of the religious profile of Great Britain were published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on 23 September, in the form of the first release of data from the Integrated Household Survey (IHS) for April 2009 to March 2010.
The IHS is a composite household survey combining the answers from six ONS household surveys to produce an experimental (ie still to be assessed by the UK Statistics Authority) dataset of core variables. It is the largest social survey ever attempted by ONS and represents the biggest pool of UK social data after the decennial population census.
The aim of the IHS is to produce high-level estimates for particular themes to a greater precision and lower geographic area than current ONS household surveys. Religion is one of the themes covered in Britain (but not in Northern Ireland), and in 2009-10 data on it are available for 442,266 respondents.
The question posed was: ‘What is your religion, even if you are not currently practising?’ This differs somewhat from the various questions asked about religious affiliation in the separate home nations at the 2001 census.
In response, and with missing values apparently excluded from the baseline, 20.5% of British people claimed to have no religion, 19.6% in England, 28.0% in Wales and 24.7% in Scotland.
At unitary authority or county level, Slough had the highest level of religious affiliation in England (93%), while Brighton and Hove had the lowest (58%). In Scotland there was a high of 92% in Inverclyde and a low of 62% in Midlothian. In Wales the range was from 81% in Flintshire down to 67% in Blaenau Gwent, Caerphilly and Swansea.
71.4% of all Britons stated that they were Christians, ranging from 69.0% in Wales to 72.3% in Scotland. The 2001 census figure for Britain was 70.6%, taking the current religion data for Scotland. However, this is calculated against a baseline which includes those who did not answer the religious question (which was voluntary in 2001).
The next largest religious group in the IHS was the Muslim community, at 4.2% of the British population (4.7% in England and 1.2% in Wales and Scotland). This equates to 2,520,000 individuals (against the mid-2009 population estimate, the latest available), lower by 350,000 than the calculation just released by Pew which was the subject of our post at http://www.brin.ac.uk/news/?p=598.
Other faith communities recorded in the IHS were Buddhists (0.4%), Hindus (1.4%), Jews (0.5%), Sikhs (0.6%) and other religions (1.1%).
All the above data are extracted from the statistical bulletin and appended documentation to be found at:
IHS data will also be made available via ESDS.
This is a preliminary news post only. In due course, BRIN would hope to undertake a fuller analysis of these and subsequent IHS data (the rolling IHS dataset will be published by ONS at quarterly intervals).
POSTSCRIPT [23 October 2010]
The dataset for the 2009-10 IHS was released by ESDS on 22 October as SN 6584. It is now available for secondary analysis. See: