23 October 2014, The Tablet

Catholic population stable while Anglican numbers drop

The proportion of British people identifying themselves as Anglican has halved in the last 50 years, while the proportion of Roman Catholics has remained largely steady, according to new data.

The percentage of self-identified Anglicans in Britain has fallen by half since 1963, according to figures released this week by the British Election Study in the run-up to next year’s general election. This year 31.1 per cent of respondents were Anglican compared to 64.5 per cent in 1963.

A spokeswoman for the Church of England said that it was active across the country, carrying our weddings, baptisms and funerals, and was host to vital community activities.

“Research published earlier this year shows new signs of growth – against this backdrop of decline – in a variety of areas of Church life including newly established congregations, established parish churches and cathedrals,” she said.

Some 9.1 per cent identified themselves as Catholics, a proportion that has remained fairly steady across the decades and is slightly higher to the 8.6 per cent identified in 1963.

In response to the question “Do you regard yourself as belonging to any particular religion”, 44.7 per cent said they did not.

The figures also revealed that the majority of Anglicans were older. Just 14.2 per cent of Anglican respondents were aged 18-24, while almost half – 46.4 per cent – were aged between 65 and 74 years.

But the proportion of Catholics was steady across the age range. Of 18-24 year olds, 8.5 per cent identified as Catholic, compared to 8.6 per cent of 65-74 year olds.

In terms of geographical profile, the highest proportion of people identifying themselves as Catholics was in the north-west (14.7 per cent) and the lowest was in the south-west (5.4 per cent). 

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