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Information and statistical data

In France it is forbidden, since 1872, to differenciate people on the ground of their religious belonging in a census. It is therefore impossible to include questions regarding religious affiliation in a demographic study. Thus, no information regarding religion, but only general demographic information can be found on the website of the French National Institute of Economic and Statistical Information (INSEE).

INSEE publishes thematical studies concerning religion. Unfortunately, the most recent one was issued in 1998 (Xavier Niel, Etat de la pratique religieuse en France). More recently, the July 2008 edition of the journal Populations et Société of the National Institute of Demographical Studies (INED) dealt with religious practice (pratique religieuse). In 2008, INED also led an important survey on trajectories and origins (Trajectoires et origines), which has a chapter dealing with religious belonging.

A new website, the portail de la statistique publique (portal of public statistics), has been set up upon demand of the Conseil national de l’Information statistique to allow public access to all statistical information provided by public institutions (Institut national de la statistique et des études économiques, services statistiques ministériels, and others). It provides access to available information concerning religious practice (chapter 8.5 - INSEE statistics 2008).

Any other information regarding religious affiliation is found through surveys carried out by specialised institutes, generally at the request of newspapers or magazines. The results of these surveys are usually available, at least in part, on the institutes’ websites: CSA polling organisation, IFOP polling organisation, BVA polling organisation, TNS-SOFRES polling organisation, IPSOS polling organisation.
Besides, the website valeurs-France provides the results of the European Values Study (EVS concerning the French, and the website ISSP France the results of the ISSP (International Social Survey programme) concerning France.

Article 8 of the Law of January 6, 1978 modified forbids to collect any personal data showing, directly or indirectly, racial or ethnic origin, political, religious or philosophical opinions, belonging to Trade unions - or related to health or sexual behavior of individuals ("interdit de collecter des données à caractère personnel qui font apparaître, directement ou indirectement, les origines raciales ou ethniques, les opinions politiques, philosophiques ou religieuses ou l’appartenance syndicale des personnes, ou qui sont relatives à la santé ou à la vie sexuelle de celles-ci.")

See a full article on the question of religious belonging (pdf file).

D 5 June 2017    AAnne-Laure Zwilling

CNRS Unistra Dres Gsrl

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