Estonian youngsters second least religious in Europe

Estonian youngsters – 16-29-year-olds – are the second least religious in Europe, right after the youth in the Czech Republic.

It’s not surprising, considering Estonia in general is one of the least religious countries in the world, but now a major analysis on the religious beliefs of Europe’s youngsters can put some numbers to the equation.

It turns out 80 per cent of Estonia’s young people are without any religious affiliation, according to the research by St Mary’s University, the UK, and the Institut Catholique de Paris, France. Interestingly, however, only 67% of the Estonian youngsters never pray, which begs the question, to whom do the 13% of the nonreligious pray. Another noteworthy number from the research is the attendance of religious services – only 41% of the Estonian youths never attend such services.

Most religious youngsters in Estonia are Orthodox

Nineteen per cent of young people in Estonia identify with Christianity – and the majority (13%) of them are Christian Orthodox. Three per cent identify with Protestantism, one per cent with Catholicism and another one per cent with “other Christianity”.

In the non-religion top, Sweden comes after Estonia with 75 per cent of its youngsters not identifying with any religion, followed by the Netherlands (72%), the UK (70%) and Hungary (67%). The most religious youngsters, however, live in Israel where only one per cent of youths said they didn’t identify with any religion.

Looking at Estonia’s neighbours, then in Finland, 60% of the young people aren’t affiliated with any religion, in Russia the number is 49 and in Lithuania 25. Latvia wasn’t included in the study.

The research is based on the data that was taken from the major European Social Survey conducted between 2014-2016. Its primary intention is to help inform the work of the 2018 Synod of Bishops, due to be held in Rome in October 2018.


Cover: An Estonian girl in nature (courtesy of Visit Estonia Flickr).

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About the author: Sten Hankewitz

Sten Hankewitz is a lifelong journalist and Deputy Editor at Estonian World. Having lived in Estonia, Spain, the UK and all around the US, he now resides in Chicago, IL. He loves to write and besides working at Estonian World and doing some occasional blogging, he writes books and contributes to other outlets in Estonia, Israel and elsewhere. He has strong convictions and he shows them unashamedly. You can follow him on Twitter, like his page on Facebook or check out his personal blog. You can write to Sten at