Aging in the Pews 

December 22, 2022

An area chart showing percentage of Americans who report attending religious services at least once a week by age from the years 1998 to 2021.

That churches and places of worship have struggled to attract and retain young worshipers is no secret. But new research finds that the most active congregants have gotten far older over the past two decades. In 1998, nearly six in ten (58 percent) Americans who attended religious services at least once week were under the age of 50. By 2021, regular worshipers were far older—only 43 percent were under the age of 50. The majority were at least 50 years old and one in three were retirement age (65 years old or older). The growing generational divide in America’s churches and places of worships presents all sorts of challenges to churches, not least their capacity to navigate to sensitive cultural questions, such as sexuality and sexual identity. It also risks putting these churches further out of step with the general public on issues, like same-sex marriage

Survey Reports

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Daniel A. Cox
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From Swiping to Sexting: The Enduring Gender Divide in American Dating and Relationships

The January 2023 American Perspectives Survey sheds some light on dating preferences, experiences, and perspectives. The national survey of more than 5,000 adults age 18 and older, including nearly 800 single adults, finds that Americans have strong dating preferences when it comes to living at home, being unemployed, and smoking.

Red leather-bound Qur'an on a wooden table with prayer beads and a light blue surgical mask draped over top.

Lindsey Witt-Swanson, Jennifer Benz, Daniel A. Cox
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Faith After the Pandemic: How COVID-19 Changed American Religion

The Survey Center on American Life at AEI teamed up with researchers at NORC at the University of Chicago to measure religious affiliation and attendance both before the pandemic (2018 to March 2020) and again in spring 2022, revealing who remained at the pews, who returned to the pews, and who left.

A cartoon showing a vibrant office from the ceiling view.

Brent Orrell, Daniel A. Cox, Jessie Wall
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The Social Workplace: Social Capital, Human Dignity, and Work in America

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Photograph of pro-choice protestors holding signs

Karlyn Bowman, Daniel A. Cox
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Gender, Generation and Abortion: Shifting Politics and Perspectives After Roe

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