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Working paper

WP113: Religious faith and democracy: Evidence from the Afrobarometer surveys

John F. McCauley and E. Gyimah-Boadi 2 Sep 2009 Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe
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This paper takes advantage of Round 4 of the Afrobarometer surveys to explore the relationship between religion and democracy in Africa . It focuses on three central concerns. First, using a new, exogenous measure of religiosity in the survey, we find that African citizens who place importance on religion are also more trusting of their presidents and other compatriots, and they tend to take a greater interest in public affairs. Second, we explore variation across religions: whereas Muslims and evangelical Christians prioritize their religions and follow public affairs to a greater degree than do others, we find no evidence to suggest that these differences have a practical effect on support for democracy. Notably, Muslims are no more or less supportive of democracy than are members of other religions in Africa . Finally, we notice what might be the beginning of a trend toward secularization among African citizens. Although the vast majority of surveyed Africans continue to place great importance on religion in their lives, preliminary cross-national and longitudinal data suggest that the importance may be starting to wane.

John McCauley

John F. McCauley is Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Political Science at the University of California, Los Angeles.

E. Gyimah-Boadi

Gyimah is the chairman of the board of directors at Afrobarometer