Happy Birthday, Social Trends

On 2 July the Office for National Statistics published the fortieth (2010) edition of Social Trends, the annual compilation of social data from governmental and other sources. Edited by Matthew Hughes, it can be bought as a print publication from Palgrave Macmillan (ISBN 978-0-230-24067-4, £55) but (together with data in Excel format) is also available for free download at:


As usual, a few of the tables or figures in this year’s edition touch on religious matters, the principal ones being:

TABLE 2.12: marriages by type of ceremony in England and Wales, 1981, 1991, 2001 and 2007 (source: Office for National Statistics). Total ceremonies in England and Wales have fallen from 352,000 to 231,500 between 1981 and 2007, and the number of religious ceremonies has declined from 51% to 33%. The proportion of religious ceremonies is higher in Scotland (48%) and Northern Ireland (71%).

FIGURE 13.17: proportion of people mixing at least once a month with others from different ethnic or religious backgrounds by location in England, April-June 2009 (source: Citizenship Survey, Department for Communities and Local Government). The most likely place to mix socially was at the shops (62%), followed by work, school or college (53%) or a pub, club, café or restaurant (47%). The figure for places of worship was 16%.

FIGURE 13.18: proportion of total amount given to charity by cause, 2008/09 (source: Charities Aid Foundation and National Council for Voluntary Organisations). Of the total £9.9 billion donated to charity, 15% is for religious causes. This is the biggest single category, followed by medical research (14%), hospitals and hospices (12%), overseas (12%), children and young people (11%), animals (5%) and education (4%). 

FIGURE 13.20: belief in God in Great Britain by gender, February 2007 (source: YouGov). 22% of adults aged 18 and over (17% of men and 26% of women) interviewed online claimed to believe in a personal God who created the world and heard their prayers, and a further 26% (22% of men and 29% of women) believed in ‘something’ but were unsure what that was. 16% of the sample, 22% of men and 10% of women, declared themselves atheists.

TABLE 13.21: attendance at church or religious services or meetings (other than rites of passage) by gender in Great Britain, 2008 (source: British Social Attitudes Survey, National Centre for Social Research). 57% of adults aged 18 and over stated that they never or practically never attended religious services, 63% of men and 52% of women. 14% were regular attenders (once a fortnight or more), 12% of men and 15% of women, rising to 19% among those aged 65 and over. 53% of the sample reported that religion was not at all important in their daily lives, 61% of men and 45% of women.

This will be the last edition of Social Trends to appear as a print publication. Henceforth, it will be disseminated solely via the web, with material being added throughout the year.

British Religion in Numbers: All the material published on this website is subject to copyright. We explain further here.

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One Response to Happy Birthday, Social Trends

  1. Pingback: British Religion in Numbers: news

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