Attitudes towards life and death in Europe: a comparative analysis
Fundamental aspects of human existence such as birth and death are at the core of our values and profoundly sensitive to our religious beliefs, our ideals as a society, and our opinions on the extent to which individuals may interfere in these basic life issues. This article analyses the factors that explain people's attitudes towards key beginning- and end-of-life issues. To do this, we first tracked variations across two points in time, and then looked at the effects of value orientations and socio-demographic factors in comparative perspective across countries. Based on previous literature, we consider justification for euthanasia, abortion, and in vitro fertilisation as a latent variable using European Value Study data from the 2008 and 2017 waves. Five European societies were analysed: Spain, Germany, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, and Russia. All the countries observed showed growing levels of justification for these practices, although significant differences were found in the value orientation effects and respondents´ background variables on attitudes towards life and death issues. In order to properly address comparability, multi-group confirmatory factor analyses across countries and across waves were conducted, and measurement invariance tested. From our analyses, we can conclude that age and religiosity, alongside other sociodemographic variables, are important explanatory factors in the justification of life and death issues in all the countries examined; however, value orientations show less conclusive effects on such attitudes.