The Religious Composition of the Chinese Diaspora, Focusing on Canada


Vegard Skirbekk, IIASA, Schlossplatz 1, A-2361, Laxenburg, Austria. E-mail:


The religious composition of the Chinese Diaspora varies by countries with the highest Christian share in the Philippines (86 percent) and the highest Buddhist share (84.3 percent) in Cambodia. The religiously unaffiliated are more likely found in Vietnam (74.7 percent), Canada (70.1 percent), and Austria (63 percent) and less likely found in the Philippines (0.6 percent) and Malaysia (1.5 percent). A further analysis of high-quality Canadian census data allows for a more in-depth focus. In 2001, 81 percent of the 125,000 Chinese migrants (those born in mainland China who had moved to Canada between 1996 and 2001) were unaffiliated, 11 percent were Christian, and 7 percent Buddhist. Relative to the topic of conversion, data on Chinese migrants admitted to Canada between 1981 and 1990 reveals growth in the proportion that self-identified as religiously affiliated (Christian as well as Buddhist) and a decline in the proportion who reported no religion.