The nonreligious, known as the Nones, and members of religious minorities in the United States are much more likely to have attended college or a vocational school than members of the Christian majority, according to a new study.
The Pew Research Center review was based on data from 2010, using census and survey data from 151 countries that found wide gaps in education among followers of the world's major religions. It also found an education gap between men and women within religious groups.
Only 36 percent of the 267 million Christians in the United States had a post-secondary education, which made them the least-educated religious group in the country.
The study found a positive connection between higher education levels and the number of people who described themselves as having no religion. In the United States, the religious tended to be less educated than the nonreligious.
Jews in the United States were more than twice as likely as Christians to have a postsecondary degree, and Hindus were almost three times as likely, the report showed. Most Jews live in two wealthy countries with generally high education levels: the United States and Israel.
From a worldwide perspective, Christians in the United States were among the best-educated among all Christians. Twenty percent of Christians worldwide had a post-secondary degree.
Globally, the gender gap was widest among Hindus, with women receiving 2.7 years less education on average than men, and Muslims, whose women received 1.5 years less education. Buddhist women received 1.1 years less education than men, Christian women received 0.4 years less, and unaffiliated women received 0.8 years less. There was no educational gender gap among Jews, the researchers said.