First-generation immigrants to the UK are three times as likely as natives to claim to attend religious services at least weekly and to pray in private daily. They are also more religious than immigrants to most other European countries on the same two measures.
This is according to a newly-published journal article by two social scientists at Utrecht University: Frank van Tubergen and Jorunn Sindradottir, ‘The Religiosity of Immigrants in Europe: a Cross-National Study’, Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, Vol. 50, No. 2, June 2011, pp. 272-88. See, in particular, the table on page 281.
The data are drawn from European Social Survey, Rounds 1-4 (2002-09), in which representative samples of adults aged 15 and over were interviewed. Tubergen and Sindradottir, however, have focused on a sub-sample of 10,117 first-generation immigrants living in 27 receiving countries, of whom 731 had come to the UK.
33% of immigrants to the UK said they attended religious services at least weekly, compared with 18% of all European immigrants. Indeed, immigrants to the UK came second only to their counterparts in Poland (63%) on this indicator. For UK natives reported weekly attendance was 11% against a continental mean of 17%.
48% of immigrants to the UK prayed daily outside religious services against 30% of immigrants to European countries as a whole. The UK figure was again the highest of all nations except for Poland (62%). 17% of UK natives prayed daily, less than the continental average of 22%.
Self-assessed religiosity was measured on a scale of 0 (not at all religious) to 10 (very religious). Immigrants to the UK scored 5.83 overall, better than the European immigrant mean of 5.44, although on this occasion seven countries recorded a higher figure. UK natives scored 4.04 compared with 4.82 for natives across all Europe.
The UK sub-sample of first-generation immigrants was obviously insufficiently large to permit further disaggregation, particularly by religious affiliation. It is probable that the greater propensity of immigrants to the UK to worship and pray regularly was driven by the high proportion with Roman Catholic and Muslim backgrounds.
The dataset for European Social Survey, Rounds 1-4 is available at the Economic and Social Data Service as SN 4732.