Politics and Religion


Morality in Context: A Multilevel Analysis of the Relationship between Religion and Values in Europe

Ingrid Storm 

University of Manchester


The exact relationship between religiosity and moral values is understudied, and it is unclear what the process of secularization means for the morality of Europeans. Previous research shows that religion is associated with low levels of political and economic development. A potential explanation is that religion provides an alternative moral authority to the authority of the state. Using data from four waves of the European Values Study 1981–2008, I analyze attitudes to personal autonomy (vs tradition) and self-interest (vs social norms) in a multilevel model of 48 European countries. The results show that religious decline has been accompanied by an increase in autonomy values, but not self-interest, that the relationship between religion and morality is stronger in more religious countries, and that it has declined since the 1980s. We also show that religiosity is more negatively associated with self-interest among people with low confidence in state authorities.


Address correspondence and reprint requests to Ingrid Storm, Cathie Marsh Institute for Social Research, University of Manchester, Humanities Bridgeford Street 2.13W, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9PL, UK. E-mail: Ingrid.storm@manchester.ac.uk

Ingrid Storm is a Research Fellow at the University of Manchester. Her research interest are in religious change, value change, religious and ethnic identities and attitudes to minorities.


  The data used in this article comes from the European Values Study and is freely available for academic use from the Gesis data catalogue (www.gesis.org/en/home/). The Author would like to thank David Voas and Siobhan McAndrew for their comments and support. This research was supported by the Marston Family Trust.