Changes in belief in reincarnation

Andrew Greeley has investigated changes over time in Americans' belief in life after death. He used the General Social Survey of the National Opinion Research Center, ongoing since 1972. Belief in life after death has increased for the general US population from 77% in the 1970s to 79% in the 1980s and 81% in the 1990s. Jews are least likely to hold this belief. Surveys between 1991-94 showed 84% of Protestants, 82% of Catholics, 57% of non-affiliated, and only 48% of Jews believed in life after death. However, in all religious categories, younger respondents were more likely than older ones to believe in life after death, and this difference is especially marked among Jews. Of Jews in the entire sample born between 1900-1910, only 24% believed in life after death, in contrast to 40% of those born in the 1960s -- Joel Fleischman's age group. Greeley explains this finding in terms of the fact that the cohort born (as was Joel) in the 1960s are mostly third-generation Americans. Having been socialized in the United States, they acquired beliefs closer to those of the general population than had immigrants at their same age. See Andrew M. Greeley, "Pie in the Sky While You're Alive: Life After Death and Supply Side Religion," available at