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Currently, more Muslims live in Asia and the Pacific than in any other region, and as a result, this region had the largest natural increase in the Muslim population between and By about , the natural increase in the Muslim population in sub-Saharan Africa is expected to exceed the natural increase in Asia. Muslims in Asia and the Middle East-North Africa region will experience slower growth in the coming decades as Muslim fertility in these regions declines. These populations will continue to have more births than deaths through , but they will grow at a slower rate.

Muslims in Europe and North America also are expected to have more births than deaths through But this will change in the coming years. For people with no religion in Asia, the number of deaths will begin to exceed the number of births to unaffiliated mothers by , a change driven by low fertility and a relatively old unaffiliated population in China.

By , unaffiliated deaths are expected to outnumber births in Europe as well. About Pew Research Center Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping the world. It conducts public opinion polling, demographic research, media content analysis and other empirical social science research.

Pew Research Center does not take policy positions. It is a subsidiary of The Pew Charitable Trusts. What Americans believe and expect about the global size of religious groups Before releasing projections of the future size of religious groups in , Pew Research Center asked members of the American Trends Panel a few questions about their perceptions of the global religious landscape — and their expectations for its future.

The living and the dead : social dimensions of death in South Asian religions

The five-year periods described in this report represent midyear to midyear time spans — for example, from July 1, , to June 30, — which are standard units used in demography and by organizations including the United Nations Population Division. November By , Muslims are expected to make up Jews constituted 0. Both figures round to 0. For the purposes of the religious group projections in this report, these people are categorized as unaffiliated.


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The worldwide estimate of Jews could be larger if this group were included, or smaller if a narrower definition of who is Jewish such as an unbroken line of matrilineal Jewish descent were used. Because of the scarcity of census and survey data, Pew Research Center has not projected the size of individual religions within this category. Estimates of the global size of these faiths generally come from other sources, such as the religious groups themselves.

By far the largest of these groups is Sikhs, who numbered about 25 million in , according to the World Religion Database. In countries with low infant and child mortality rates, a total fertility rate close to 2. Replacement-level fertility is higher in countries with elevated mortality rates. The most populous countries for which switching was not modeled are China and India.

Prior to this study, the most extensive analysis of religious switching covered 40 countries. See Barro, Robert J. It is difficult to formally project religious switching in China without reliable information on recent or likely patterns of switching.


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For example, it is not clear at what rate people in China may be converting to Christianity from other groups, and retention patterns among Christians are not known. Nor is it clear at what rate Islam, Buddhism and other faiths may be gaining adherents in China.

If China experiences a net movement toward religious affiliation via switching in the decades ahead, that would tilt the needle toward a more religiously affiliated global population, particularly since China is currently home to a majority of the worldwide unaffiliated population. Change in religious affiliation may occur as young adults move away from their parents and partner with someone of a different affiliation status. While some religious switching may take place at other ages, switching is modeled as a life course phenomenon in which some young adults change their religious affiliation status.

There may be some time periods during which people of all ages are prone to religious switching, such as when political circumstances in a country encourage or discourage religious identity or lack of religious identity. Our models do not attempt to include such period effects. Grim and Vegard Skirbekk. The survey questions discussed in this sidebar were developed before the first report was released, which is why they ask about expectations for the size of religious groups in rather than Table of Contents Overview A note about terminology Global population projections, to Change in where groups are concentrated Age and fertility are major factors behind growth of religious groups The demographic challenges of the religiously unaffiliated What Americans believe and expect about the global size of religious groups How births and deaths are changing religious populations Acknowledgments Appendix B: Methodology for this report.

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