Religion & abortion, the international trends

It is a well known fact that in the United States that opposition to abortion tends to be concentrated among the most religious segment of the population. It is also a fact that the more secular nations tend to be more accepting of abortion than the religious ones. But what about the trends within nations? Yesterday on Gene Expression I posted a chart which shows that the proportion of Catholics who oppose abortion is strongly correlated with the proportion of the other major religious group who oppose abortion. All things equal there was an international tendency for Catholics to be somewhat more anti-abortion than non-Catholics, but a far better predictor of attitudes was not religion but nationality. In other words Catholic Germans resembled Protestant Germans while Catholic Chileans resembled Protestant Chileans.

But what about religion and irreligion more generally on the international level? That is, do religious and irreligious people within a nation tend to correlate in their attitudes toward abortion? Do atheists in Germany resemble religious people in Germany more than they do atheists in Nigeria? I used the same methodology is in the Gene Expression post. I used The World Values Survey. I looked at Wave 5 and Waves 3 & 4 separately, so the latter are aggregated. This means some nations show up twice in the data set. Additionally I discarded any nation where the sample size for atheists was 10 or less. There is a variable which asks people to rate their attitude toward abortion on a 0 to 10 scale in terms of if it is justifiable, 0 = “never justifiable.” That is the proportion in the data, abortion is never justifiable. Additionally for each nation there is a breakdown into three categories, “religious person,” “not a religious person” and “convinced atheist.” So the raw data below you see rows which have nations, and three columns for each category. All the numbers are percentages of those who believe that abortion is never justifiable.

Below are two scatterplots. Each data point represents a nation.

ab11

ab2

1) It is clear that religion correlate with opposition to abortion in the vast majority of nations.

2) But, the attitudes of religious people and non-religious people track each other so that the irreligious in nation X may oppose abortion much more than the religious in nation Y.

3) The small sample sizes for “convinced atheists” was probably the reason that you see more of a residual in that plot than in the one which included those who were “not religious.”

Raw data below the fold.

Religious Not Religious Atheist
France 20 9.2 7
Great Britain 27.5 12.9 15.8
Italy 42.5 14.5 4.2
Netherlands 25.7 14.1 9.4
Spain 29.8 7.2 0
USA 30.3 13.7 8
Canada 31.9 17.1 3.7
Japan 21.3 12.3 11.9
Mexico 56.3 49.5 45.5
South Africa 57.8 54.6 45.7
Australia 26.7 9.6 8.6
Sweden 3.5 2.1 0
Argentina 63.5 40 28.9
Finland 20 4.6 0
South Korea 46.3 24.3 26.9
Poland 53.2 15.5 12.6
Switzerland 20 6.3 3.2
Brazil 64.9 52.3 39.9
Chile 68 46.6 24.5
India 63.3 48.8 40
Slovenia 0 0 0
Bulgaria 18.3 17.2 2.1
Romania 50 29.2 20
China 70.1 66.3 70.1
Taiwan 39.6 31.5 27.2
Ukraine 32.3 23.6 69.3
Russia 35.8 30.8 33.8
Vietnam 55.9 52.2 57.3
Colombia 75 70 62.5
Serbia 24 14.4 13.9
New Zealand 28.1 5.2 3.6
Cyprus 44.2 31.8 15.9
Iraq 90.1 80.1 84.6
Hong Kong 41.9 35.7 26.2
Andorra 13.5 5.2 1.2
Malaysia 43.1 44.1 42.9
Burkina Faso 65.4 63.5 75
Germany 24.7 9.1 9.4
Albania 21 8.5 13.5
Azerbaijan 29.6 26.3 44.4
Argentina 60.9 39.7 25.2
Australia 32.6 12 8.2
Austria 28 9.4 3.6
Armenia 22.7 24.2 11.4
Belgium 37.7 18 9.9
Bosnia 34.2 23.2 16.3
Bulgaria 26.3 15.3 15.3
Belarus 22.6 16.4 13.3
Canada 35.7 15.6 4.7
Chile 72.6 57.7 47.5
China 57.1 56.2 50
Taiwan 47.3 42.1 53.8
Colombia 73.6 65.9 50
Croatia 37.5 10.9 6.6
Czech 18.6 6.9 5.7
Denmark 16.2 6.5 2
Dominican Republic 63.8 43.8 38.5
El Salvador 91.4 89.3 85.7
Estonia 23.4 14.2 14.2
Finland 19.1 10.3 5
France 22.7 8.6 5.4
Georgia 30.4 20.5 34.8
Germany 30.6 12.6 10.2
Greece 22.2 8.2 2.1
Hungary 34.1 19.2 20.6
Iceland 13.7 6.1 3
India 61.1 55.2 55.6
Iran 78.7 66.2 56.7
Ireland 57.8 37.5 14.6
Italy 35.7 12.3 4
Japan 23.4 14.2 14.2
South Korea 48.6 29.4 34
Kyrgyzstan 63.3 43.2 48.1
Latvia 26.7 14.5 20
Lithuania 39 12.1 14.6
Luxembourg 24.3 8 7.1
Mexico 65.6 53.8 33.6
Moldova 43.4 16.7 7.8
Netherlands 20.8 6.6 8.2
New Zealand 26.3 12.2 9.7
Nigeria 73 61.1 67.7
Norway 20.8 10.1 4.5
Peru 70.2 68.1 56.2
Poland 46.6 9.7 8.1
Portugal 37.5 19.7 10.5
Puerto Rico 78 67.4 60
Romania 37.1 18.2 11.5
Russia 20.2 12 19.9
Slovakia 30.1 6.4 8
Vietnam 66.3 57.3 60.7
Slovenia 28.7 9.4 10.7
South Africa 60 59.1 32.8
Zimbabwe 93.4 84.4 76.1
Spain 38.9 16.6 8.3
Sweden 9 3.1 2.2
Switzerland 29.4 15.5 4.3
Turkey 67.6 54.3 22.2
Ukraine 35.3 21.9 20.1
Macedonia 39.3 16.9 29.4
Great Britain 32.3 20.2 12.6
Tanzania 90.3 81.2 86.7
USA 36.4 16 4.4
Uruguay 58.6 39.8 20.2
Venezuela 71 66 61.5
Serbia 25.3 16.7 21
Northern Ireland 55.4 32.4 22.6
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