Comparing Church and Community: a Demographic Profile

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This paper uses data from the 2016 Australian population census and the 2016 National Church Life Survey to compare the general population with church attenders on a range of demographic measures.

The paper provides a breakdown of key indicators by seven Christian denominations, namely Anglican, Baptist, Catholic, Lutheran, Pentecostal, Uniting and ‘Other Protestant’. The Census results also pull out insights of the growing and unaffiliated ‘Not Further Defined’ (NFD) Christian group.



Key findings indicate that the proportion of church attenders over 60 years of age is significantly higher than the proportion of that age group in the general population. Church attenders are more likely than the general population to be university educated and slightly more likely to be born in a non-English speaking country. Church attenders are more likely to be married or widowed, and less likely to be never married or separated/divorced than the population at large. The implications of these findings for churches are discussed.

Authors: Aaron McAleese, Miriam Pepper, Ruth Powell


McAleese, A. Pepper, M. & Powell, R. (2018). Comparing church and community in 2016: a demographic profile. NCLS Research Occasional Paper 32. Sydney: NCLS Research.