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A US study using census data shows that religion here and in eight other Western world countries is set for extinction.

Census data was taken from as far back as a century from countries in which the census queried religious affiliation: Australia, Austria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Switzerland.

The result, reported at the American Physical Society meeting, indicates that religion will all but die out altogether in those countries.

In New Zealand, it's thought around half of all Kiwis claim no religious affiliation.

Massey University Associate Professor of History Peter Lineham says in the 1950s, around 10% of New Zealanders had no religious affiliation. He says that increased to 45% in the 2006 census.

"Hopefully the 2011 Census will take place at some point next year and we'll know the latest figures, but it surely will have gone up to over 50%," he told Newstalk ZB.

Professor Lineham says the study would have very different results if the study looked at other countries.

"If they took any countries beyond the western countries they've named, they would actually have the opposite phenomenon of religion getting larger."