Young & Catholic

Chile's population growth of 1.4 percent per year (as of 2018) is similar to that of its neighboring countries Peru, Bolivia and Colombia, and represents a slight increase since 2012 (1%), while the birth rate is falling. In 2006, every woman had 2.06 children on average - in 2012 the figure was 1.85 and in 2017 1.68. The falling birth rate and increasing life expectancy (80 years - as of 2018) are leading to an aging trend; 19.3% are younger than 14 years and 19.3% older than 60 (in 2012 the figure was only 14%).

Three quarters of the population claim they are Catholics, which is not to be confused with being a "practicing" Catholic. The Vatican cannot only boast many adherents in this former Spanish colony, but it also regards Chile as something of a last defense. The Catholic Church uses its unflagging influence in politics and society to encourage moral crusades against abortion, contraception, and divorce. On the other hand, Catholic congregations provide valuable social services, and during the military dictatorship, bishops and clergy had the courage to push for human rights.

In recent years, fundamentalist churches from the USA, as well as baptists and methodists, have gained ground in Chile. New Age groups have been building on the widespread belief in miracles, while protestants play only a very minor role. The few Lutheran churches were mostly founded by German immigrants.