Coming Out as an Atheist: a preliminary report (Part III) Comparison by Age

What age differences are there in the data?

The overall sample is skewed toward male respondents, with 74.6% of the total sample responding thus. There is a clear tread, though, toward a slightly more equal age distribution in the younger respondents. For example, 79.0% of those 56-65 were male compared to 69.8% of those 18-25.

The overall sample is skewed toward white respondents, with the total sample reporting 89.4% to be white. Just as with gender, though, the numbers change in a steady fashion as the respondents get younger. For example, 93.6% of those 56-65 report themselves as white compared to 86.4% of the 18-25 year olds.

Marital/partnered status
Predictably, 70.8% of the 18-25 year olds report being single while those in the older age groups report much lower percentages with only 25.3% of the 36-45 year olds reporting the same. The 46-55 year olds report the highest percentage of being married at 60.2% compared to only 7.9% of the 18-25 year olds.

Political views
The entire sample was very liberal, with the entire sample placing 82.5% in the “very liberal” or “somewhat liberal” categories. This varied by age only very subtly, with the younger respondents being the most liberal. More specifically, for example, 79.6% of those 56-65 fell into one of those categories while 83.9% of those 25-36 indicated as such.

Spiritual and supernatural beliefs
While there was a trend of younger people being very slightly more spiritual, the exact reverse is true with regard to believing in supernatural phenomena, with the trend being that slightly more people believed in the supernatural in the higher age groups.

Born-again Christian
The vast majority of the sample indicated that they were not born-again Christians before they became atheist (84.6%), though that number is clearly the highest among the 56-65 year olds with 91.0%.

Stigma of atheists in your culture
Though the entire sample overwhelmingly indicated that atheists were stigmatized at least slightly in their culture (88.9%), there was a different in those indicating that atheists were “very stigmatized.” For example where 37.0% of the 18-25 year olds felt that way 48.4% of the 46-55 year olds indicated thus.

Repercussions of being identified as an atheist
While the results for workplace and local community are very similar across the age categories; there was a clear age related trend with respect to repercussions if family were to find out. Here are the numbers indicating that the older you are the less you feel there would be repercussion from your family:

18-25 60.5% indicated at least some repercussions
26-35 58.0%
36-45 45.3%
46-55 44.0%
56-65 34.5%
Overall sample 52.7% indicated at least some repercussions

Discomfort in private and public setting where religion is invoked
In answer to the question “Which best describes how you feel in more intimate social situations where religion is invoked (for example, a pre-meal prayer with family or friends)?” there is a clear age related trend indicating that that younger people feel more discomfort in this scenario. The clearest representation of that trend is seen in the percentage of the respondents in each age group indicating “I feel no discomfort.”
18-25 16.2% indicated “I feel no discomfort
26-35 18.1%
36-45 23.9%
46-55 28.5%
56-65 32.6%
Overall sample 21.5% indicated “I feel no discomfort

The same trend, though not quite as marked presents itself in response to the question “Which best describes how you feel in public gatherings where religion is invoked (for example when a speaker refers to god or says a prayer)?"

18-25 15.8% indicated I felt no discomfort
26-35 16.0%
36-45 19.4%
46-55 22.3%
56-65 25.1%
Overall sample 18.1% indicated I felt no discomfort

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