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Religious belonging among immigrants

According to the last Dossier Caritas, by the end of 2003, 49.5% of the total immigrant population in Italy was Christian (2,400,000 foreigners according to the Istituto nazionale di statistica and about 2,800,000 according to Caritas). This is due particularly to the recent increase in Orthodox believers coming from Eastern Europe. Of this figure, 22.6% are Roman Catholic, 20.3% are Orthodox, 4.7% are Protestant and 1.9% are members of other Christian religions.
After Roman Catholicism, Islam represents the second largest religion in the country, being 33% of the foreign population (730,000 persons). Jews represent 0.3% of the foreign population, Hindus 2.4% and Buddhists 1.9%.
The figures may however not be completely accurate – and may even need to be scaled down – for the Orthodox, the Protestants and the Eastern religions. The documents from Cesnur stress that a certain number of immigrants from the Far East say that they do not belong to any religion and that a good number of Chinese immigrants would in fact seem to be Christians. It is also worth keeping in mind that figures provided by the home countries often underestimate the minority religions on their soil. In preparing the official statistics in Italy, the percentage of immigrant believers is calculated based on the estimations in their countries of origin. The official number of Muslims in a country does not necessarily translate to the same number among immigrants in Italy.

Religious belonging is closely linked to the job market, considering particularly the case of "domestic workers". 70% of these workers are Christian (347,000 out of 490,000 female foreigners), followed by 11.4% of Muslim women and only 3.7% of members of the Eastern religions.

D 27 September 2012    AAlessandra Marchi

CNRS Unistra Dres Gsrl

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