Work packages

A. Historical analysis of religious composition of the population in Vienna (A. Goujon)

The first step will entail the reconstruction of the main religious changes that have occurred since the end of the Second World War in terms of fertility, mortality, migration (national and international, and secularization).

This would particularly include three main exercises:

WP 1.1 (Month 1 – Month 12): Analysis of the process of secularization in Vienna based on the data on exits from the Roman Catholic and Protestant Church, existing since the 1950s, by age and sex. This will allow the analysis to look at the cohorts of Viennese born since the 1950s and to reconstruct their religious history at the aggregate level.

WP 1.2 (Month 1 – Month 12): Reconstruction of the migrant composition by religion based on the data on fertility by religion in the past as well as the secularization among the Protestant and the Catholic group (WP1.1), which would allow us to reconstruct the migration data by religious affiliation as ‘residual’ for the period 1951-2001, and to check it against migration data by country of origin. In order to contrast the specificities of Vienna with the rest of the country, the analysis would also be done at the regional level for the other Austrian federal provinces.

WP 1.3 (Month 1 – Month 12): Reconstruction of mortality (life tables) by religious denominations based on census data.


Expected Results:

– Deliverables in terms of scientific publications (three are foreseen) and diffusion through other channels more accessible to journalists, decision makers and the public at large e.g. Demografische Forschung Aus Erster Hand.


B. Recent religious changes (C. Berghammer, K. Fliegenschnee, A. Goujon, V. Skirbekk, T. Sobotka, M. Stonawski, and K. Zeman)

A study of the forces at play in the present population which are affecting religious shares and intensity in Vienna, and particularly of the impact of recent developments in fertility, migration, education, labor force, and selected other parameters on the religious dynamics in the city.


WP 2.1 (Month 6 – Month 18): Age and cohort religious change

This work package will provide a cohort and age analysis of the different parameters of religious changes in population composition, especially secularization and migration, and the transmission of religion from parents to children within the household, depending on the migration background.


WP 2.2 (Month 6 – Month 24): Religious mobility

The process of ethno-religious mobility within the districts of Vienna is key to understanding the present and especially future evolution of the city. The work under this work package will deal with the residential mobility of the population of Vienna and the patterns of migration (internal, international) to Vienna according to the last three censuses (from 1981 to 2001). We will measure the mobility at the district level (and possibly sub-district level) over time and will estimate the effect of the religious composition on the individual probability to move. We will look if the results are different depending on the migratory status (migrant, non migrant), on religious affiliation, and/or on selected characteristics measured at the district level (for instance overall employment rates). This analysis will lead to the identification of potential zones of ethno-religious segregation in the city of Vienna. Through indexes of dissimilarity and isolation and the study of ethno-religious concentration, we will try to identify which one of these segregation measures is stronger in Vienna, whether it has been increasing over time and whether it is stronger than the socio-economic indicators of segregation. We will compare our results to other studies such as those done in the US in metropolitan areas with high levels of racial segregation e.g. Massey (2004) or in France e.g. Preteceille (2009). The latter studies have shown that in certain areas of Paris the concentration of specific ethnic groups increase the outmigration of natives to other districts and consequently migrants tend to become less mobile as the proportion of migrants with the same origin increases in the district of residence. This pattern has had a reinforcing effect on the segregation dynamics that were observed in the last few decades in some parts of France.


WP 2.3 (Month 6 – Month 24): Fertility analysis

The processes of secularization and immigration are mirrored in birth and fertility dynamics in Vienna. Especially women without religious affiliation and women belonging to other than Roman Catholic and Protestant denominations have had a rapidly increasing share on births and fertility rates in Vienna during the last two decades (see Figure 2). Austria is one of the few countries where vital statistics records contain information on mother’s religious affiliation.  We plan to use the time series of individual birth data, obtained from Statistics Austria within the framework of the Geburtenbarometer project (, to reconstruct fertility trends and differentials by religious affiliation of the mother in Vienna and in Austria. Specifically, we plan to address the following issues:

– How are the joint processes of secularization and immigration mirrored in the trends in the composition of births by mother’s[1] religion? We look also at birth order dimension of childbearing and distinguish between women born in Austria and those born abroad. This analysis will also be complemented with the information about marital status and education level of mothers.

– Are there pronounced differences in fertility behavior by religion, migration status and education? Our dataset contains information about the date of the previous birth and thus enables us to link different births to one mother over time and investigate progression rates to the second, third and higher-order births. For women with one or more children born in Vienna we aim to reconstruct parity progression rates by religion since 2000 and subsequently address the question whether the observed differentials can be explained by other factors than religion, especially by educational composition and migration status.

Several other directions of analysis will be considered as well:

– Reconstructing age and religious composition of women of reproductive age, which would allow us to study first birth patterns in addition to the progression rates to the second and higher-order births;

– Analyzing how changing religious composition of the Viennese population influences fertility dynamics in the city;

– Estimating religious composition of migrant women arriving from different countries, based on the information on religious affiliation of mothers and differences in fertility rates by religion;

– Preparing scenarios of future births and fertility trends by religious affiliation.


Figure 2. Live births in Vienna by religious affiliation of the mother, 1984-2008 (in %) (Source: Computations based on the data provided by Statistics Austria)



WP 2.4 (Month 6 – Month 24):  Intensity and belief in Vienna

This Work Package proposes to analyze the changes in the intensity of the religious practice among adherents of the Catholic and Protestant religion in Vienna as well as among the fastest growing religious denomination, the Muslim community, and the broad non-religious group, referred to as the secular. For the latter, we would analyze especially the increase in the share of ‘believers’ in the ‘secular’ groups as many people are in rupture with the Catholic Church (for instance after the 2010 pedophilia scandal revealing the misbehavior of Catholic priests), but not with their beliefs. Age and cohort changes in religiosity and the interrelation between belonging, believing and practice will be at the core of this Work Package. The study will be done through statistical analysis of selected surveys (especially the EVS) conducted at regular intervals and through qualitative interviews which will focus on how the people perceive their beliefs and what make them act.

As shown in Figure 3, Vienna appears to have the lowest share of people praying and, together with Burgenland, the lowest share attending church services and considering themselves as religious. We will analyze the long-term trends in religiosity in Vienna and in the other provinces and reveal the main patterns in this trend, as well as the factors that are able to account for differences in level of religiosity in Vienna and the rest of Austria (e.g. age structure or education). In addition, this work package will be assessing the internal and international migration and intergenerational transmission of (non-)religiosity.


Figure 3. Proportion of the population of the Austrian federal provinces attending church at least monthly, praying at least more than once a week and assessing themselves as religious (7-10 on a 0-10 scale), ages 15-74, ESS 2006/07 (weighted)


(Note: ranked by increasing share of church attendees)


Expected Results:

– Deliverables in terms of scientific publications (four are foreseen) and diffusion through other channels more accessible to journalists, decision makers and the public at large.


C. Projection of the future religious composition of the population in Vienna (A. Goujon, M. Stonawski, and V. Skirbekk).

Work Package 3 (Month 24 – Month 36) will formulate projections of the five main religious denominations/groups[2] at the city level (not at district level) from 2001 to 2051, based on scenarios on the future development of the main demographic parameters (fertility, mortality, international and internal migration) for each religious denomination as well as on scenarios on the transmission of religion from parents to children and on future rates of secularization among the main religions. The projections will help us to derive the sensitivity of the estimates of the future religious landscape of Vienna to the main assumptions regarding demographic patterns, religious characteristics and trends. The projections will particularly be informed by the result of the analysis conducted under Work Package 2 on recent trends:

– Work Package 2.3 will formulate scenarios on fertility by age, sex and religion. We will explore the possibility and the implications of the future convergence of fertility rates by religion, differential changes in fertility timing by religion and their interrelation with developments in the level of education in the city of Vienna.

– Migration by age, sex and religion will require the input from Work Package 2.2 on international and internal migration to Vienna. We will test the sensitivity of the estimates of the share of religious populations according to several scenarios based on the migration trends observed in the recent past.

– The secularization patterns as well as the patterns of the transmission of religion from parents to children will be formulated on the basis of results obtained in Word Package 2.1.

Expected Results:

– Deliverables in terms of scientific publications (one is foreseen) and diffusion through other channels more accessible to journalists, decision makers and the public at large.


D. Research dissemination (Month 1 – Month 36)

The dissemination of the research undertaken under this project will be done at the level of academia through publication in scientific journals, presentation in scientific conferences e.g. European Population Conference in 2012, and the organization of one meeting in Vienna with other scientists, Austrian and international working in the field of population, religion and religiosity. Furthermore, based on the above-described analysis, we will aim at improving the understanding of the religious changes at several levels: among relevant decision makers (at municipal level, parliamentarians, as well as government and Church officials, other religious leaders, and other stakeholders like NGOs and journalists. This would be done by the mean of Study/Policy briefs and proactive dialogues with political decision makers and the Vienna community through the organization of a workshop (Month 30-36).

[1] The choice of mother’s fertility, as an object of study rather than father’s fertility is mostly based on the availability of data but also on research showing that mothers are predominantly responsible for the intergenerational transmission of religion (see Lutz 1985 in the case of Austria). We will however undertake new attempts to clarify the relationships between births and modes of establishing religious adherence in WP 2.4.

[2] Roman Catholics, Protestants, Muslims, other religions, and no religion.