The findings, from the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research, show that 55 percent of Americans reported attending worship services at least monthly in 1998, compared with 60 percent in 1981.
The international surveys on faith and values among 166,000 adults were conducted in 1981, 1990-91 and 1995-98. Polls have consistently reported higher church attendance in the United States compared with other industrial democracies. The institute said attendance has been increasing in Great Britain and five of the seven post-communist nations surveyed, but it is falling in Switzerland, Spain and Australia.
The institute also asked respondents how frequently they thought about the meaning and purpose of life. The proportion of those replying "often" in 1998 was 46 percent in the United States, second only to East Germany's 47 percent.
On this question, spiritual interest showed gains in 26 of the 37 societies surveyed. Australia, West Germany, South Korea, Italy and the Netherlands all had increases of 10 percent or more.