Spiritual Life Study of Chinese Residents

Data Archive > International Surveys and Data > Single Nation Surveys > Summary


The lack of quality data has left academia with an unclear picture of what religious life is like in China. Much of what is known comes from government statistics, anecdotal reports from missionaries and religious organizations, or field research. The objective of this study was to design and collect a state of the art random sample of Chinese citizens and assess their religious and spiritual life. A high quality team of Chinese scholars was assembled for the project. The survey was designed in fall 2006. In the spring of 2007, Dr. Anna Sun led a research team to field test the survey in China. In May 2007 the data were collected. The survey was a face-to-face interview. Respondents were selected using a multi-stage method to select metropolitan cities, towns and administrative villages. The final survey was administered in 56 locales throughout China, including 3 municipal cities (Beijing, Shanghai, Chongqing), 6 province capital cities (Guangzhou, Nanjing, Wuhan, Hefei, Xi’an and Chengdu). In addition, 11 regional level cities, 16 small towns, and 20 administrative villages were sampled. Within each locale, households were sampled within neighborhoods, and neighborhoods were sampled within administratively defined total neighborhood committees (government defined collections of neighborhoods). A KISH grid procedure was used to randomly select one respondent from each household for a face-to-face in-home interview.

Data File
Cases: 7,021
Variables: 393
Weight Variable: WEIGHT1, WEIGHT2, WEIGHT
Data Collection
Date Collected: May and June of 2007
Original Survey (Instrument)
Original Questionnaire in Chinese
Funded By
The John Templeton Foundation
Collection Procedures
This survey employed face-to-face interviews with a key informant from the household. The data were collected by HorizonKey, a Chinese research firm.
Sampling Procedures
Data come from the 2007 Spiritual Life Study of Chinese Residents (SLSC), a national multi-stage probability sample of 7,021 Chinese in mainland China. Respondents had to be 16 or older, and have lived at their current residence for three months, and have not done a survey in the past 6 months. Also excluded were people who worked in related occupations. These occupations include marketing investigation institutes or market research departments of corporations; advertisement and planning companies, or advertisement and planning departments of corporations; public relation companies, or public relation department of companies; media institutes such as television stations, broadcasting, newspapers and magazines.

Respondents were selected using a multi-stage method to select metropolitan cities, towns and administrative villages. The final survey was administered in 56 locales throughout China, including 3 municipal cities (Beijing, Shanghai, Chongqing), 6 province capital cities (Guangzhou, Nanjing, Wuhan, Hefei, Xi’an and Chengdu). In addition, 11 regional level cities, 16 small towns, and 20 administrative villages were sampled. Within each locale, households were sampled within neighborhoods, and neighborhoods were sampled within administratively defined total neighborhood committees (government defined collections of neighborhoods). A KISH grid procedure was used to randomly select one respondent from each household for a face-to-face in-home interview. The final data set is weighted to reflect population parameters in the 2006 Statistical Yearbook of China (n=7,021). The final sample has an AAPOR RRI response rate of 28.1%. This number is somewhat deflated because 18% of all households sampled were unoccupied/empty when the interviewer visited the address.
Principal Investigators
Dr. Fenggang Yang (Purdue University), Dr. Victor Yuan (CEO-Horizon Key Research, Beijing), Anna Sun (Kenyon College/Princeton University), Dr. Lu Yengfang (Peking University); Dr. Rodney Stark (Baylor University), Dr. Byron Johnson (Baylor University), Dr. Eric Liu (Baylor University), Dr. Carson Mencken (Baylor University) and Dr. Chiu Heu-Yuan (Taiwan National University)
Related Publications
Liu, Eric Y., and F. Carson Mencken. 2010. "Fatalistic Voluntarism and Life Happiness in Post-Socialist China." Sociological Spectrum, 30(3): 1-19.

Stark, Rodney, and Eric Y. Liu .2011. "The Religious Awakening in China." Review of Religious Research 52(3): 282

Zhai, Jexia Elisa. 2010. "Contrasting Trends of Religious Markets in Contemporary Mainland China and Taiwan." Journal of Church and State.52(1): 94-111.
Weight Variables
WEIGHT 1: The data are proportionately weighted by level of geography, based on population size. Respondents from cities are proportionately weighted to reflect the distribution of cities in the analysis; respondents from the towns are proportionately weighted to reflect the distribution of towns in the analysis; respondents from rural villages are proportionately weighted to reflect the distribution of villages in the analysis.

WEIGHT 2: All respondents are assigned weights based on urban, town, or rural status to reflect the national distribution trends, based on The 5th Basic Statistics on National Population Census of China.

WEIGHT: Both WEIGHT1 and WEIGHT2 are multiplied together.