PUBLISHED: 02:13 EST, 19 April 2012 | UPDATED: 02:13 EST, 19 April 2012
Belief in God is highest among older people and increases with age, researchers have revealed.
The findings are not all that staggering as it can be largely attributed to the growing realisation that death is coming close.
But data from surveys conclusively proves that, on average, 43 per cent of those aged 68 and older were certain that God exists.
By comparison, an average of 23 per cent of people aged 27 and younger were firm believers in God, according to the report.
The University of Chicago’s National Opinion Research Centre carried out the surveys in 1991, 1998 and 2008 in 30 countries from Chile to Japan.
It gathered data from the International Social Survey Programme, a consortium of the world’s leading opinion survey organizations.
Researcher Tom Smith said: ‘Looking at differences among age groups, the largest increases in belief in God most often occur among those 58 years of age and older.
‘This suggests that belief in God is especially likely to increase among the oldest groups, perhaps in response to the increasing anticipation of mortality.’
Over the past two decades, belief in God has decreased in most countries, but the declines were modest, he added.
Israel, Slovenia and Russia were three exceptions where belief in God had grown.
For instance in Russia, non-believers who became believers outnumbered by 16 per cent those who had lost their belief in God.
Belief was highest in strongly Catholic countries such as the Philippines, at 94 per cent, and lowest in Western Europe, with only 13 per cent of former East Germans believers.
In the United States, 81 per cent of people surveyed said they had always believed in God, and 68 per cent support the concept that God is concerned with people in a personal way.
People were asked about their range of beliefs, from atheism to strong belief in God; their changing beliefs over their lifetimes; and their attitudes toward the notion that God is concerned with individuals.
The countries surveyed were Australia, Austria, Chile, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Britain, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Norway, The Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States.