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Religion, historical


This variable is not available for any of the currently selected samples.

Explore how IPUMS created this variable


RELIGION describes the religion of the respondent.

Comparability — General

Users will note that the range of responses is much greater in Canada than in Norway, Sweden or Iceland. This reflects the greater religious diversity in Canada, compared with other countries.
The main religious categories are fully comparable across all Canada samples. The sub-categories are mostly comparable, with a few categories appearing or disappearing across the years. The 1891 sample, specifically, includes a series of "Other" categories (e.g., "Other eastern religions", "Other Methodists") that are not found in the other samples. See the unharmonized source variables for the complete set of responses for each year.

In the 1901 and 1911 Canadian census, the religion recorded was the self-professed religion of each person. Religious pluralism within a family was allowed. Enumerator often did not record a religion for aboriginal people, or merely entered "pagan".

For the 1865 Norway, 1875 Norway, 1890 Sweden, and 1900 Sweden samples, the religion field was left blank for anyone who belonged to the state church (which is Norwegian Lutheran for Norway and Swedish Lutheran for Sweden). Enumerators only filled in the religion field if the respondent was not a member of the country's state church. These instructions are similar for the Norway 1910 census as well. For 1910 Norway, an 'S.' was given to indicate anyone who belonged to the Norwegian state church (Lutheran). Only religions that weren't Lutheran were noted in full.

Users should be aware that a few religious categories change slightly over time between censuses for Norway and Sweden.

For the 1901 Iceland sample, enumerators were required to record an answer from each person in the household, regardless of the denomination (or lack thereof) they professed. This variable is not available for the 1703, 1729, 1801 or 1881 samples.


No universe descriptions are currently available.


  • Canada: 1852, 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901, 1911
  • Germany: 1819
  • Iceland: 1901, 1910
  • Norway: 1865, 1875, 1900, 1910
  • Sweden: 1880, 1890, 1900, 1910