Census crowdsource

I’ve seen a bunch of reports from the census saying that the proportion of Australians reporting “no religion” has increased substantially, to around 22 per cent. I’d be interested to know if this is mainly a cohort effect (non-believing younger generations entering the population) or the result of people who previously reported a religious affiliation switching to reporting none. I’d be surprised if much of it was the result of people abandoning previous religious beliefs, as opposed to nominal affiliations, but I don’t think the data allows a test of this.

I just had a brilliant idea for how to motivate this effort. The first person to give a good answer gets to nominate the next topic for crowdsourcing. As a hint, the ideal way to answer the question would be to compare responses from a given age group in 2006 with the same group, now 5 years older, in 2011, adjusting, if possible for migration effects.

Update: The evidence, collected in the comments threads, suggests that cohort and conversion effects each account for about half of the shift.

The prize goes to David Barry, with honorable mentions to Aldonius and Luke Elford. I’ll give Dave first shot at proposing a new topic (in comments), but also invite suggestions from Luke and Aldonius. Meanwhile, I’m going to suggest something a bit more challenging for crowd-sourcing. If anyone would like to use the data to develop a simple model to project likely changes in stated Census affilations over the next two decades, with a specific focus on the question “When will (Census reported) Christian affilation become a minority response in Australia”, I’ll add a write up and send it as a joint post to The Conversation, the new(ish) academic-focused website.

28 thoughts on “Census crowdsource

  1. My $0.02 goes with the cultural/allegiance drift hypothesis.

    Factors include: A decline in the perception of organised religion as a generally benign, or even mildly beneficial, force in society. The rise in aggressively political christian fundamentalism (‘Hillsong’, Exclusive Brethren, Family Fist etc..). The barely concealed religious dimension to our recent/current wars of choice.

    I get especially irked by the labelling of the resultant “no religion” portion of the population as “militant/aggressive atheists”.

  2. If the topics for crowdsourcing have to be related to the Census, then I’m happy to leave the next topic to Luke or Aldonius.

    If the topic can be on any subject, then I would be interested in seeing how much global research funding goes towards different diseases. My goal here is to see if research funding into a disease is roughly proportional to the global burden of the disease, or if there are relatively under- and over-funded areas; the former might then be the best place for individuals to donate to, if they want to support medical research.

    The global burdens are on the WHO’s website: http://www.who.int/healthinfo/global_burden_disease/estimates_regional/en/index.html I don’t know where I’d find funding statistics. As a first step, I’d be happy with just US/EU government agency funding data. For instance, the National Cancer Institute has a nice table here, http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/NCI/research-funding

  3. Those possessing religious beliefs ought rightly to be far to ashamed to admit it.

    The question ought to be removed as the data are unlikely to be accurate and why humiliate those unfortunates so afflicted?

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