NEW YORK (JTA) – Israel is the only country in the world where a higher percentage of men say they engage in daily prayer than women, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center.
The study, which draws on data from more than 2,500 censuses and surveys taken over the last few years in 192 countries, found that women generally are more religious than men. An estimated 83.4 per cent of women worldwide identify with a faith group, compared to 79.9 per cent among men, according to the study released Tuesday and titled “The Gender Gap in Religion Around the World.”
Women in Christian countries report more weekly attendance at religious services than men, but the opposite is true in majority Muslim countries and in Israel. This is due in large part to religious norms that prioritize male worship participation in Muslim and Orthodox Jewish societies, the study found.
In the 84 countries for which data were available, women said they pray daily at a rate 8 percentage points higher than men. Women pray daily more than men in 43 of those countries. With the exception of Israel, the two genders pray daily at roughly equal rates in the remainder of the countries.
Israel is also an outlier in the gender gap when it comes to the question of whether respondents considered religion very important to them personally. In 36 of 84 countries, more women than men said religion was very important to them, and in 46 countries roughly equal proportions of each sex said religion was very important, the study found. Only in Israel and Mozambique did more men than women say religion is very important to them.
Worldwide among Christians, women are 7 percentage points more likely to attend religious services weekly compared to men as well as consider religion important, 10 per cent more likely to pray daily, 3 per cent more likely to believe in angels, and 1-2 per cent more likely to believe in heaven and/or hell.
Among Muslims worldwide, men are 28 percentage points more likely to attend religious services weekly compared to women, but women are 2 per cent more likely to engage in daily prayer than men. Among Muslims, the genders rank about equally when it comes to the importance of religion, belief in angels, and belief in heaven and/or hell.
In Israel, men say they attend religious services weekly at a rate 19 percentage points higher than women. Among American Jews, men say they attend religious services weekly at a rate 3 per cent higher than women, the study found, but noted that the U.S. Jewish gender gap is insignificant given the study’s sample size.
The Pew study found some other key differences among Israeli and American Jews. In America, women are 8 percentage points more likely than men to say religion is very important to them. In Israel, Jewish men are 9 per cent more likely than women to say that.