Astrology, the study of the movements and positions of celestial objects as a means of divining information about human affairs and terrestrial events, has been practiced for thousands of years. In modern times, astrology continues to have a strong global following, with horoscopes and zodiac signs being a part of mainstream culture in many parts of the world.
But where exactly is astrology most popular today? Which regions have seen the biggest growth and interest in astrological services and beliefs in recent years?
Astrology’s Enduring Popularity in Europe
Europe is considered the birthplace of modern astrology, with many of its principles and techniques originating with Hellenistic astrology practiced in 1st and 2nd century Rome. While astrology declined after the Middle Ages, it saw a major revival starting in the 19th century, especially in England and France.
Today, astrology remains an important part of European culture. A 2018 National Science Foundation survey found that 22% of people in Western Europe read their horoscopes at least occasionally, with 12% reading them regularly. The percentage was even higher in Eastern Europe at 39% overall and 22% regular readers.
Some of the countries with the highest rates of astrology belief and readership in Europe include:
- France – 29% of French people consult their horoscopes regularly according to a 2014 Ipsos survey, with millions reading daily astrology columns in the press. Paris is a global center of astrology.
- Germany – 24% of Germans occasionally read horoscopes and 11% do so regularly, according to the NSF survey. Astrology enjoys mainstream popularity.
- Italy – Italians have a long tradition of astrology belief stemming back to ancient Rome. Even today, over 17% are regular horoscope readers.
- United Kingdom – 33% of Britons read their horoscopes at least occasionally. Metaphysical services like astrology are a £40 million industry.
- Switzerland – Astrology rates highest in German-speaking Switzerland at 30% compared to 23% in French-speaking parts.
- Spain – While concrete statistics are sparse, astrology remains woven into Spanish culture and mainstream media.
So while astrology has declined as a scholarly study in Europe over the past century, it still maintains an expansive and enthusiastic following throughout the continent today.
India Drives Strong Asian Interest in Astrology
Asian cultures have a long history of astrological practice, most notable in India where astrology is considered an important Vedic science. While belief has waned in countries like China and Japan, India continues to drive high levels of astrology adherence in Asia today.
According to a 2016 report by the Pew Research Center, more than half of Indians have a high degree of “belief in astrology and the power of stars to influence people’s lives.” Astrology services are a multi-billion dollar industry in India today, with astrological forecasts and analysis remaining a mainstream cultural practice.
Some factors that make astrology so pervasive in India include:
- Long history dating back over 4000 years to early Vedic civilization
- Influence from Hellenistic astrology starting in 4th century BC
- Astrological study as one of the 6 Vedangas, or limbs of the Vedas
- Emphasis on celestial omens in ancient Hindu texts
- Use in timekeeping with the Hindu calendar
- Complex system of over 50 important astrological combinations
- Integration with major life decisions like marriage, career, and finance
- Daily astro forecasts in media outlets with high readership
- Thriving industry of celebrity astrologers and TV shows
While exact survey data is difficult to obtain for a country the size of India, astrologers regularly estimate that over 90% of Indians have their birth charts drawn up and believe in their accuracy to some degree. Beyond India, belief in astrology remains moderate to low across most of Asia – but India is without a doubt the foremost global center for astrological practice in modern times.
Astrology Persists in Latin America and Africa
Compared to other regions, less research exists examining attitudes toward astrology and horoscopes in Latin America and Africa. However, the available data does show a persistent popularity of astrological beliefs and practices in parts of these regions today.
For example, a 2012 IPSOS survey in Brazil found that 87% of citizens put at least some trust in horoscopes, with 24% fully trusting astrological predictions and insights. Studies in Mexico show an estimated 60-70% of people read horoscopes occasionally, while 45% of respondents in one study believed that stars influence destiny.
In Africa, precise statistics are difficult to pinpoint given the region’s immense cultural diversity. However, anthropologists have noted the widespread appearance of astrology and traditional cosmology in both North African and Sub-Saharan societies over history. Astrology continues to hold meaning for many African people today.
While astrology in these regions may take unique traditional forms at times, global modern astrology has also grown in popularity with the advent of the internet and social media.
Falling Rates in Skeptical U.S., Australia, and Spain
Despite astrology’s persisting global popularity, it has become less culturally prominent in certain western and developed nations in recent decades. Three prime examples are the United States, Australia, and Spain.
In the U.S., the percentage of people who believe astrology is scientific dropped from 31% in 2010 to just 18% in 2018, according to a National Science Board report. Only 5-9% of Americans regularly read their horoscopes today. Australia has seen similar declining belief, with 2016 statistics finding only 13% of Australians read horoscopes and 9% follow astrological forecasts.
Skepticism of astrology also seems to be rising in Spain, with one 2012 study finding over 50% of Spaniards said astrology has no scientific basis. Compared to neighboring France and Italy where astrology remains mainstream, Spain stands out as a relatively disbelieving anomaly in Europe based on available data.
While openness to astrology persists to some degree worldwide, it appears to be gradually declining as science education improves in more economically advanced nations. Still, mainstream astrology continues to thrive in nearly all corners of the globe in the modern era.
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Mukherjee, R. (2016, December 14). More Indians believe in astrology over scientific temper. Times of India. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/More-Indians-believe-in-astrology-over-scientific-temper/articleshow/55989710.cms
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