During this time of Easter and Ramadan, let us keep in mind that we Filipinos are one of the most religious people on the planet. This fact is based on the four cross-national religion surveys of the International Social Survey Program (issp.org) between 1991 and 2018.
Hard belief in God. In 2018, the 78% of Filipinos (adults) who said, “I know God really exists and I don’t doubt it” was the third highest proportion among the 33 countries surveyed, now called the Rest of the World, or ROW for short. No. 1 was Georgia (86%), which is predominantly Orthodox Christian, and No. 2 was Turkey (84%), which is predominantly Muslim. The average hold was only 34%.
(The right-of-way includes: Austria, Bulgaria, Chile, Croatia, Czechia*, Denmark, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Israel, Italy, Japan*, South Korea, Lithuania, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Russia*, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, UK and USA In those marked with *, the majority of respondents were only brought up in no religion.)
Atheists, who say “I don’t believe in God,” make up just 1% of Filipinos; but they are 15% in the rest of the world and 17% in Spain. Agnostics, who say “I don’t know if there is a God and I don’t believe there is a way to find out,” make up only 3% of Filipinos; but are 11% in the rest of the world, as well as in Spain.
Some Filipinos are indulgent believers: “Even if I have doubts, I feel like I believe in God”, 10%. Some go off and on: “I find myself believing in God at times, but not at others”, 5%. Some use a different term: “I don’t believe in a personal God, but I do believe in some higher power”, 3%. Together, these three soft/weak categories represent only 18% of Filipinos, compared to a plurality of 40% in the rest of the world. Isn’t this a comparative advantage for us?
Beliefs about the afterlife. Let’s compare Filipinos (PH) to Other Peoples (ROW) in terms of beliefs that certain things definitely or probably exist:
Life after death: PH 83, ROW 51; Sky: PH 95, LINE 48; Hell: PH 79, ROW 39; Religious miracles: Ph 68, ROW 46.
Numbers are percentages of respondents in 2018. We Filipinos are quite different from other people. Who is closest to the truth, and why does it matter?
Top quality cross-national social surveys. In 1990, the Social Weather Stations became the 12th member of the ISSP, which now includes 43 countries. The ISSP is a democratically organized (one country, one vote) consortium that conducts surveys for cross-national analysis on topics relevant to the social sciences. The topic, sub-topics, composition of the questionnaire writing committee and the final wording of each question (in UK English, the base language; local translation is done by each member) are all decided by vote.
A module has exactly 60 “ticks” or multiple-choice items: no less, in order to maximize the data collected, and no more, in order to minimize the cost. It is replicated every few years, with 40 items retained for time series analysis and 20 revised to meet new circumstances.
The ISSP has no membership fees. Each member is responsible for attending the annual meeting and doing their own country survey; it then deposits the data in the archive (in Germany and Spain) which makes the global dataset freely available to social scientists worldwide, whether affiliated with the ISSP or not.
Failure to take two surveys or attend two annual meetings will suspend the member’s right to vote; a number of countries are out of the ISSP because of this. The reward of membership is participation in survey design and invaluable learning from fellow scientists in this endeavor.
Over the years, the modules have been: Role of Government; Social networks; Social inequality; the family and changing gender roles; Work guidelines; Religion; Environment; National identity; Citizenship; Leisure and sports; and Health and Healthcare. ISSP 2022 is about family; ISSP 2023 will combine National Identity and Citizenship; ISSP 2024 will be unique, on Digital Societies.
SWS has made every ISSP module since 1991, without fail. He doesn’t need election polls to occupy himself.
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