Women are much more likely to believe in God and in life after death than men, researchers have found.
Two-thirds have faith compared to fewer than half of men. Sixty per cent of women believe in the afterlife but only 35 per cent of men, said academics.
There was also a gender split among atheists. Men were much more likely to be definite that death is the end – 63 per cent against 36 per cent of women.
Study author Professor David Voas said: ‘Belief – or disbelief – in God and in life after death do not always go together.
‘Nearly a third of the people who believe in God do not believe in an afterlife.’
Just over half in the study said they were Christian. Most of the rest said they had no religion.
The findings support growing indications that women are more religious and Christian churches increasingly rely on them as worshippers and ministers.
The new study was published in advance of the consecration of the Reverend Libby Lane as the first woman bishop in the CofE in a service at York Minister next week.
It said that the findings ‘arguably support the case for more women clergy.’
Professor Voas added: ‘Among believers, women are much more likely to be definite than men, and among non-believers, men are much more likely to be definite than women.’
But he said there was ‘no obvious answer’ as to why.
The UCL Institute of Education, London, quizzed 9,000 people as part of the British Cohort Study which is following the lives of 17,000 people born in 1970.
Among the 9,000 who contributed, 60 per cent of women believed in life after death, but only 35 per cent of men.
Over half of the men did not believe in God – 54 per cent said they were atheists or agnostics. But only just over a third of the women, 34 per cent, said the same.
But there was a difference between men and women even among the atheists. Men were much more likely than women to be fully convinced about that there is no life after death – 63 per cent of male atheists say they are definite that death is the end, against 36 per cent of women.