Data from YPulse’s recent Religion and Spirituality Report reveals an interesting finding: an increasing number of Gen Z and Millennials in North America say religion is important to them, while in Western Europe, fewer young people say so. This is one of the many differences between young consumers in North America and Western Europe when it comes to religion and spirituality. Here are three stats that highlight the differences in how young consumers from two regions approach religion and spirituality:
Gen Z and Millennials in Western Europe are a lot more likely to say they’re neither spiritual nor religious compared to their peers in North America
When asked to choose what best describes their beliefs between the options “religious,” “spiritual,” or “neither,” nearly half of European Gen Z and Millennials ticked the “neither” box—and it’s even the majority among European Gen Z (53%). This number has increased by +5pts since 2022, when just over two in five young Europeans described themselves as “neithers” (42%). The fact that more young people don’t see themselves as spiritual or religious doesn’t mean more are becoming atheists, or objecting to the beliefs held by organized religions. YPulse’s data shows that only 14% of young Europeans described their belief system as “atheist.” Although this number is higher than in North America, where only 7% of young people identify their faith as atheist, it’s still very far from the 47% who see themselves as neither spiritual nor religious.
Accordingly, young Europeans “neither” status impacts their religious and spiritual practices, too. Our data shows that only 43% of young Europeans engage in any religious / spiritual activity at least once a week while in North America, three in five young consumers do so (61%). And when it comes to seeking spiritual guidance, a similar pattern can be observed: young Europeans are less likely than their North American peers to say they want any sort of spiritual guidance. More than three in five young North Americans say they wished they had more spiritual guidance (61%), but it’s only 45% among 13-39-year-olds in Western Europe.
Young Europeans are less likely than young North Americans to believe mystical and supernatural practices can be part of self-care
Young Europeans don’t hold the same views on the role of mysticism and the supernatural in their self-care routines compared to their North American counterparts. In Western Europe, 45% of young consumers think mystical healing / supernatural powers can be a part of self-care, whereas three in five young North Americans think so (60%). In other words, the majority of young consumers in North America think of the mystical as part of well-being, but young Europeans are less likely to think so.
It’s not that young Europeans don’t engage in mystical practices. In fact, YPulse research shows that the majority of young Europeans have participated in practices associated with supernatural properties (55%). From astrology and tarot readings to energy healing and mindfulness, young Europeans demonstrate a genuine interest in mystical practices. Just like their North American peers, young Europeans are seeing more brands embracing the mystical in their marketing: the Danish jewelry brand Pandora released a zodiac collection, while Starbucks partnered with an astrological sign app to give users the best coffee recommendations based on their zodiac sign. Mystical practices are not foreign to young Europeans, but for now, they have yet to embrace them as an essential part of self-care the way their North American peers have.
In Western Europe, only a minority of young Gen Z and Gen Alpha will be taught to follow their parents’ religious beliefs
Data from our WE Religion and Spirituality Report shows that less than a quarter of Millennial parents in the region are teaching their kids their religious beliefs. This is partly because nearly half of Gen Z and Millennials in Western Europe define themselves as neither spiritual nor religious, as seen previously. With so many young consumers not having any beliefs in the spiritual realm, it makes sense that only a minority of Millennial parents in the region are actively passing on their religious beliefs to the next gen.
The picture is different in North America, where nearly two in five Millennial parents say they’re teaching their faith to their children (38%). While young Gen Z and Gen Alpha in Western Europe are likely not to be taught their parents’ religious beliefs the way they are in North America, this doesn’t mean these gens won’t find religion or spirituality on their own. Kira Geiss, the Gen Z Christian evangelist who became Miss Germany in 2023 is a perfect example that faith in a religion can happen outside of the family nest: she didn’t receive any religious education from her parents but famously became a Christian as a teenager, and she’s using her platform to spread this message to others her age.