As the center of gravity for Christianity has shifted from the northern hemisphere to the southern hemisphere, immigrants coming into northern hemisphere nations from the south have an increasingly significant impact on the church in the north. Church leaders in all denominations are familiar with this dynamic, but a new study gives a macro view of it.
Immigrants tend to stay affiliated with the denomination they were affiliated with in their country of origin. There is relatively little conversion from to a new denomination. (My own research in the Adventist denomination shows that 70 percent of immigrants in the U.S. grew up in the Adventist Church; the same percentage as the current generation on native-born church members.)
Immigrants tend to adopt the attendance patterns present in the country of destination. They are not here long before they learn our bad habits! They also follow a number of other general patterns. Their religiosity increases with age and decreases with education. Religious activity and intensity of feeling is stronger among unemployed immigrants than those who have jobs. Married immigrants are more religious than single immigrants.
But, some things are unexpected: Men among immigrants attend church just as much as women do. The lack of religious freedom in the country of origin has no effect on the religiosity of immigrants in the country of destination.
Source: A meta study of eight western nations, compiling data from 20 surveys with a total of 38,000 respondents. Published in Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion (2006) 45:1-22.