The Sciences

Abortion & religion - an international view

Gene ExpressionBy Razib KhanJun 6, 2009 2:46 PM


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There are particular correlations about attitudes toward abortion rights within nations. For example, in the United States thereis no sex difference but more educated people tend to be pro-choice. But what are the international trends? In this post I look at attitudes toward abortion by Catholics and non-Catholics within various nations. Though Catholics tend to be slightly more pro-life, it turns out that the vast majority of the variance is between nations, not between religions. In other words, a Catholic in Germany tends to have the same attitudes as a Protestant in Germany, while a Catholic in Ghana has the same attitudes as a Protestant in Ghana. What about for religion or irreligion? Again, the same. Religiosity seems correlated with pro-life attitudes in most nations, but an atheist in a pro-life nation is far more likely to be pro-life than a very religious person in a pro-choice nation. What significance does this have?

People tend to assume that their beliefs are driven by specific and distinctive individual abstract principles and beliefs, but these data suggest that cultural Zeitgeist matters much more

Within a given society a group X may have a particular disposition, but the general outlook of the society shapes their ultimate mean viewpoint far more than their distinctive group identity.

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