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This report provides estimates of the global religious landscape in 2015 and projections of change through 2060. It focuses on expected births and deaths by religion. It includes survey data about the expectations of Americans regarding changes in the global religious landscape.
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The Changing Global
Religious Landscape
Babies born to Muslims will begin to outnumber Christian births
by 2035; people with no religion face a birth dearth
Conrad Hackett, Associate Director of Research
and Senior Demographer
Alan Cooperman, Director of Religion Research
Anna Schiller, Communications Manager
April 5, 2017, “The Changing Global Religious Landscape
About Pew Research Center
Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes
and trends shaping America and the world. It does not take policy positions. The Center conducts
public opinion polling, demographic research, content analysis and other data-driven social
science research. It studies U.S. politics and policy; journalism and media; internet, science and
technology; religion and public life; Hispanic trends; global attitudes and trends; and U.S. social
and demographic trends. All of the Center’s reports are available at Pew
Research Center is a subsidiary of The Pew Charitable Trusts, its primary funder.
This report was produced by Pew Research Center as part of the Pew-Templeton Global Religious
Futures project, which analyzes religious change and its impact on societies around the world.
Funding for the Global Religious Futures project comes from The Pew Charitable Trusts and the
John Templeton Foundation.
© Pew Research Center 2017
This report was produced by Pew Research Center as part of the Pew-Templeton Global Religious
Futures project, which analyzes religious change and its impact on societies around the world.
Funding for the Global Religious Futures project comes from The Pew Charitable Trusts and the
John Templeton Foundation.
This report is a collaborative effort based on the input and analysis of the following individuals.
Primary Researchers
Conrad Hackett, Associate Director of Research and Senior Demographer
Marcin Stonawski, Project Leader, Religion-Education-Demography Project, International
Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA); Researcher, Department of Sociology and
Human Geography, University of Oslo
Additional Key Researchers on Initial Projections
Michaela Potančoková, Research Scholar, Joint Research Centre, European Commission;
Research Scholar, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Vegard Skirbekk, Professor, Columbia Aging Center, Columbia University; Senior Researcher,
Norwegian Institute of Public Health
Phillip Connor, Research Associate
Research Team
Alan Cooperman, Director of Religion Research Stephanie Kramer, Research Associate
David McClendon, Research Associate Anne Fengyan Shi, Research Associate
Jessica Martinez, Senior Researcher Juan Carlos Esparza Ochoa, Data Manager
Editorial and Graphic Design
Michael Lipka, Senior Editor Aleksandra Sandstrom, Copy Editor
Diana Yoo, Art Director Bill Webster, Information Graphics Designer
Communications and Web Publishing
Stacy Rosenberg, Digital Project Manager Travis Mitchell, Digital Producer
Anna Schiller, Communications Manager Stefan S. Cornibert, Communications Manager
Others at Pew Research Center who gave valuable feedback on this report include Vice President
James Bell, Associate Director of Research Gregory A. Smith and Senior Writer/Editor David
We also received very helpful advice and feedback on our initial religious population projections
report (“The Future of World Religions: Population Growth Projections, 2010-2050,which was
released in 2015) from Nicholas Eberstadt, Henry Wendt Scholar in Political Economy, American
Enterprise Institute; Roger Finke, Director of the Association of Religion Data Archives and
Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Religious Studies, The Pennsylvania State University;
Carl Haub, Demographer Emeritus, Population Reference Bureau; Todd Johnson, Associate
Professor of Global Christianity and Director of the Center for the Study of Global Christianity,
Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary; Ariela Keysar, Research Professor and Associate Director
of the Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society and Culture, Trinity College; Chaeyoon Lim,
Associate Professor of Sociology, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Arland Thornton, Professor of
Sociology and Research Professor in the Population Studies Center and Survey Research Center,
University of Michigan; Jenny Trinitapoli, Associate Professor of Sociology, The University of
Chicago; David Voas, Professor of Social Science and Head of Department, University College
London; Robert Wuthnow, Andlinger Professor of Sociology and Director of the Center for the
Study of Religion, Princeton University; and Fenggang Yang, Professor of Sociology and Director
of the Center on Religion and Chinese Society, Purdue University.
A number of former Pew Research Center staff members played critical roles in producing our
initial population projections including Luis Lugo, director of religion research; former Associate
Director of Editorial Sandra Stencel; former Senior Researcher Brian J. Grim; visiting Senior
Research Fellow Mehtab Karim; and former Research Analyst Noble Kuriakose. Additionally, Guy
Abel, professor at the School of Sociology and Political Science at Shanghai University, helped
construct the country-level migration flow data used in the projections.
While the data collection and projection methodology were guided by our consultants and
advisers, Pew Research Center is solely responsible for the interpretation and reporting of the
The Changing Global Religious Landscape
Babies born to Muslims will begin to outnumber Christian births by
2035; people with no religion face a birth dearth
More babies were born to Christian mothers than
to members of any other religion in recent years,
reflecting Christianity’s continued status as the
world’s largest religious group. But this is
unlikely to be the case for much longer: Less than
20 years from now, the number of babies born to
Muslims is expected to modestly exceed births to
Christians, according to new Pew Research
Center demographic estimates.
Muslims are projected to be the world’s fastest-
growing major religious group in the decades
ahead, as Pew Research Center has explained,
and signs of this rapid growth already are visible.
In the period between 2010 and 2015, births to
Muslims made up an estimated 31% of all babies
born around the world far exceeding the
Muslim share of people of all ages in 2015 (24%).
The world’s Christian population also has
continued to grow, but more modestly. In recent
years, 33% of the world’s babies were born to
Christians, which is slightly greater than the
Christian share of the world’s population in 2015
While the relatively young Christian population of a region like sub-Saharan Africa is projected
to grow in the decades ahead, the same cannot be said for Christian populations everywhere.
Indeed, in recent years, Christians have had a disproportionately large share of the world’s
deaths (37%)in large part because of the relatively advanced age of Christian populations in
some places. This is especially true in Europe, where the number of deaths already is estimated
to exceed the number of births among Christians. In Germany alone, for example, there were an
A note about terminology
The phrase babies born to Christians
and “Christian birthsare used
interchangeably in this report to refer to
live births to Christian mothers. Parallel
language is used for other religious
groups (e.g., babies born to Muslims,
Muslim births).
This report generally avoids the terms
Christian babiesor Muslim babies
because that wording could suggest
children take on a religion at birth.
The assumption in these estimates and
projections is that children tend to
inherit their mothers religious identity
(or lack thereof) until young adulthood,
when some choose to switch their
religious identity. The projection models
in this report take into account
estimated rates of religious switching (or
conversion) into and out of major
religious groups in the 70 countries for
which such data are available.
estimated 1.4 million more Christian deaths than births between 2010 and 2015, a pattern that is
expected to continue across much of Europe in the
decades ahead.
Globally, the relatively young population and high
fertility rates of Muslims lead to a projection that
between 2030 and 2035, there will be slightly more
babies born to Muslims (225 million) than to
Christians (224 million), even though the total
Christian population will still be larger. By the 2055 to
2060 period, the birth gap between the two groups is
expected to approach 6 million (232 million births
among Muslims vs. 226 million births among
In contrast with this baby boom among Muslims,
people who do not identify with any religion are
experiencing a much different trend. While religiously
unaffiliated people currently make up 16% of the
global population, only an estimated 10% of the
world’s newborns between 2010 and 2015 were born
to religiously unaffiliated mothers. This dearth of
newborns among the unaffiliated helps explain why
religious “nones” (including people who identity as
atheist or agnostic, as well as those who have no
particular religion) are projected to decline as a share
of the world’s population in the coming decades.
By 2055 to 2060, just 9% of all babies will be born to
religiously unaffiliated women, while more than seven-in-ten will be born to either Muslims (36%)
or Christians (35%).
1 The five-year periods described in this report represent midyear to midyear time spans for example, from July 1, 2030, to June 30, 2035
which are standard units used in demography and by organizations including the United Nations Population Division.
These are among the key findings of a new Pew Research Center analysis of demographic data.
This analysis is based on and builds on the same database of more than 2,500 censuses,
surveys and population registers used for the 2015 report “The Future of World Religions:
Population Growth Projections, 2010-2050.Both reports share the same demographic projection
models, but the figures on births and deaths in this analysis have not been previously released.
In addition, this report provides updated global population estimates, as of 2015, for Christians,
Muslims, religious “nones” and adherents of other religious groups. And the population growth
projections in this report extend to 2060, a decade further than in the original report.
The projections do not assume that all babies will remain in the religion of their mother. The
projections attempt to take religious switching (in all directions) into account, but conversion
patterns are complex and varied. In some countries, including the United States, it is fairly
common for adults to leave their childhood religion and switch to another faith (or no faith). For
example, many people raised in the U.S. as Christians become unaffiliated in adulthood, and vice
versa many people raised without any religion join a religious group later in their lives. But in
some other countries, changes in religious
identity are rare or even illegal.2
At present, the best available data indicate that
the worldwide impact of religious switching
alone, absent any other factors, would be a
relatively small increase in the number of
Muslims, a substantial increase in the number
of unaffiliated people, and a substantial
decrease in the number of Christians in
coming decades. Globally, however, the effects
of religious switching are overshadowed by the
impact of differences in fertility and mortality.
As a result, the unaffiliated are projected to
decline as a share of the worlds total
population despite the boost they are expected
to receive from people leaving Christianity and
other religious groups in Europe, North
America and some other parts of the world.
And the number of Christians is projected to
rise, though not as fast as the number of
2 For further discussion of religious switching patterns, see McClendon, David, and Conrad Hackett. November 2014. “When People Shed
Religious Identity in Ireland and Austria: Evidence from Censuses.” Demographic Research.
Most religious population
between 2010 and 2015 came from
natural increase (births minus deaths)
In demographic models, the net impact of religious
switching accounted for an estimated 23% of unaffiliated
growth and 0.3% of Muslim growth while reducing
Christian growth by 7%
Note: Religious switching modeled in 70 countries among young
adults ages 1
5 to 29. Natural increase is calculated based on
estimated number of births minus deaths during the period.
Source: Pew
Research Center demographic projections. See
Methodology for details.
“The Changing Global Religious
Natural increase
Religious switching
Population change between 2010
- 2015 due to...
in millions
Global population projections, 2015 to 2060
Christians were the largest religious group in the
world in 2015, making up nearly a third (31%) of
Earth’s 7.3 billion people. Muslims were second,
with 1.8 billion people, or 24% of the global
population, followed by religious “nones” (16%),
Hindus (15%) and Buddhists (7%). Adherents of
folk religions, Jews and members of other religions
make up smaller shares of the world’s people.
Between 2015 and 2060, the world’s population is
expected to increase by 32%, to 9.6 billion. Over
that same period, the number of Muslims the
major religious group with the youngest population
and the highest fertilityis projected to increase
by 70%. The number of Christians is projected to
rise by 34%, slightly faster than the global
population overall yet far more slowly than
As a result, according to Pew Research Center
projections, by 2060, the count of Muslims (3.0
billion, or 31% of the population) will near the
Christian count (3.1 billion, or 32%).3
Except for Muslims and Christians, all major world
religions are projected to make up a smaller
percentage of the global population in 2060 than
they did in 2015.4 While Hindus, Jews and adherents of folk religions are expected to grow in
absolute numbers in the coming decades, none of these groups will keep pace with global
population growth.
3 When these projections are extended beyond 2060, Muslims are expected to reach parity with Christians in 2070. By 2075, Muslims are
expected to outnumber Christians, even as both groups continue to increase as a share of the world’s population, largely due to their
concentration in countries with relatively high fertility rates. By 2100, Muslims are expected to make up 34.9% of the world’s population and
Christians to make up 33.8%.
4 Jews are such a small share of the global population, however, that the projected change is not visible when percentages are rounded to
one decimal place. Jews constituted 0.20% of the world’s population in 2015 and are projected to constitute 0.17% in 2060. Both figures
round to 0.2% (two-tenths of 1%) in the charts and tables in this report.
Worldwide, the number of Hindus is projected to
rise by 27%, from 1.1 billion to 1.4 billion, lagging
slightly behind the pace of overall population
growth. Jews, the smallest religious group for
which separate projections were made, are
expected to grow by 15%, from 14.3 million in
2015 to 16.4 million worldwide in 2060.5 And
adherents of various folk religions including
African traditional religions, Chinese folk
religions, Native American religions and
Australian aboriginal religions, among others
are projected to increase by 5%, from 418 million
to 441 million.
Buddhists, meanwhile, are projected to decline
in absolute number, dropping 7% from nearly
500 million in 2015 to 462 million in 2060. Low
fertility rates and aging populations in countries
such as China, Thailand and Japan are the main
demographic reasons for the expected shrinkage
in the Buddhist population in the years ahead.
All other religions combined an umbrella category that includes Baha’is, Jains, Sikhs, Taoists
and many smaller faiths also are projected to decrease slightly in number, from a total of
approximately 59.7 million in 2015 to 59.4 million in 2060.6
The religiously unaffiliated population is projected to shrink as a percentage of the global
population, even though it will increase modestly in absolute number. In 2015, there were slightly
fewer than 1.2 billion atheists, agnostics and people who did not identify with any particular
5 These projections are based on estimates of people who self-identify as Jewish when asked about their religion on national censuses and
large-scale surveys. They do not include “cultural” or “ethnic” Jews people who have direct Jewish ancestry and who consider themselves at
least partially Jewish but who describe themselves, religiously, as atheist, agnostic or nothing in particular. For the purposes of the religious
group projections in this report, these people are categorized as unaffiliated. 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.
6 Although some faiths in the “other religions” category have millions of adherents around the world, censuses and surveys in many countries
do not measure them specifically. 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 2015, according to the World Religion
religion around the world.7 By 2060, the unaffiliated population is expected to reach 1.2 billion.
But as a share of all people in the world, religious “nones” are projected to decline from 16% of the
total population in 2015 to 13% in 2060. While the unaffiliated are expected to continue to
increase as a share the population in much of Europe and North America, people with no religion
will decline as a share of the population in Asia, where 75% of the world’s religious “nones” live.
Geographic differences like these play a major role in patterns of religious growth. Indeed, one of
the main determinants of future growth is where each group is geographically concentrated today.
For example, the religiously unaffiliated population is heavily concentrated in places with aging
populations and low fertility, such as China, Japan, Europe and North America. By contrast,
religions with many adherents in developing countries where birth rates are high and infant
mortality rates generally have been falling are likely to grow quickly. Much of the worldwide
growth of Islam and Christianity, for example, is expected to take place in sub-Saharan Africa.
7 In many countries, censuses and demographic surveys do not enumerate atheists and agnostics as distinct populations, so it is not possible
to reliably estimate the global size of these subgroups within the broad category of the unaffiliated.
Size and projected growth of major religious groups, 2015
Projected 2015
% of world
Projected 2060
% of world
Source: Pew
Research Center demographic projections. See Methodology for details.
“The Changing Global Religious
Change in where groups are concentrated
The regional distribution of religious groups is also expected to shift in the coming decades. For
example, the share of Christians worldwide who live in sub-Saharan Africa is expected to increase
dramatically between 2015 and 2060, from 26% to 42%, due to high fertility in the region.
Meanwhile, religious switching and lower fertility will drive down the shares of the global
Christian population living in Europe and North America.
Sub-Saharan Africa is also expected to be home to a growing share of the world’s Muslims. By
2060, 27% of the global Muslim population is projected to be living in the region, up from 16% in
2015. By contrast, the share of Muslims living in the Asia-Pacific region is expected to decline over
the period from 61% to 50%. The share of Muslims in the Middle East and North Africa is expected
to hold steady at 20%.
As of 2015, three-in-four unaffiliated people live in Asia and the Pacific. But that share is expected
to decline to 66% by 2060 due to low fertility and population aging. At the same time, a growing
share of the unaffiliated will live outside of the Asia-Pacific, particularly in Europe and North
America. By 2060, 9% of the global unaffiliated population will live in the United States alone,
according to the projections.
The vast majority of Hindus and Buddhists (98-99%) will continue to live in the Asia-Pacific
region in the next several decades. Most adherents of folk religions, too, will remain in Asia and
the Pacific (79% in 2060), although a growing share are expected to live sub-Saharan Africa (7% in
2015 vs. 16% in 2060). Roughly equal shares of the world’s Jews live in Israel (42%) and the
United States in 2015 (40%). But, by 2060, over half of all Jews (53%) are projected to live in
Israel, while the U.S. is expected to have a smaller share (32%).
Age and fertility are major factors behind growth of religious groups
The current age distribution of each religious group is an important determinant of demographic
growth. Some groups’ adherents are predominantly young, with their prime childbearing years
still ahead, while members of other groups are older and largely past their childbearing years. The
median ages of Muslims (24 years) and Hindus (27) are younger than the median age of the
world’s overall population (30), while the median age of Christians (30) matches the global
median. All the other groups are older than the global median, which is part of the reason why
they are expected to fall behind the pace of global population growth.8
8 Expected changes to the religious landscape among older adults are discussed in Skirbekk, Vegard, Michaela Potančoková, Conrad Hackett
and Marcin Stonawski. November 2016. “Religious Affiliation Among Older Age Groups Worldwide: Estimates for 2010 and Projections Until
2050.” The Journals of Gerontology Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences Series B.
Moreover, Muslims have the highest fertility rate of any religious group an average of 2.9
children per woman, well above replacement level (2.1), the minimum typically needed to
maintain a stable population.9 Christians are second, at 2.6 children per woman. Hindu and
Jewish fertility (2.3 each) are both just below the global average of 2.4 children per woman. All
other groups have fertility levels too low to sustain their populations.
9 The standard measure of fertility in this report is the total fertility rate. In countries with low infant and child mortality rates, a total fertility
rate close to 2.1 children per woman is sufficient for each generation to replace itself. Replacement-level fertility is higher in countries with
elevated mortality rates.
In addition to fertility rates and age distributions, religious switching is likely to play a role in the
changing sizes of religious groups.
Pew Research Center projections attempt to incorporate patterns of religious switching in 70
countries where surveys provide information on the number of people who say they no longer
belong to the religious group in which they were raised.10 In the projection model, all directions of
switching are possible, and they may partially offset one another. In the United States, for
example, surveys find that although it is particularly common for people who grew up as
Christians to become unaffiliated, some people who were raised with no religious affiliation also
have switched to become Christians.11 These types of patterns are projected to continue as future
generations come of age. (For more details on how and where switching was modeled, see the
Between 2015 and 2020, Christians are projected to experience the largest losses due to switching.
Globally, about 5 million people are expected to become Christians in this five-year period, while
13 million are expected to leave Christianity, with most of these departures joining the ranks of the
religiously unaffiliated.
The unaffiliated are projected to add 12 million and lose 4.6 million via switching, for a net gain of
7.6 million between 2015 and 2020. The projected net changes due to switching for other religious
groups are smaller.
10 These 70 countries were home to 43% of the world’s population in 2010, and they include many countries where switching between having
a religious affiliation and not having a religious affiliation is common, such as the United States, France, Australia and New Zealand. 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., Jason Hwang and Rachel McCleary. 2010.Religious Conversion in 40 Countries.”
Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion. It is difficult to formally project religious switching in China without reliable information on recent or
likely patterns of switching. 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.
When these projections were made, no current, nationally representative survey of Indians was available to provide reliable data on both
respondents’ childhood religion and on their current religious affiliation (the basis for calculating switching rates). However, a 1990 World
Values Survey in India found that nearly all Indian respondents who grew up as Hindu still identified as Hindu.
11 Studies of religious switching indicate that this phenomenon is often concentrated in young adult years, roughly between ages 15 and 29.
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.
Sidebar: The demographic challenges of the
religiously unaffiliated
Although current patterns of religious switching favor the
growth of the religiously unaffiliated population
particularly in Europe, North America, Australia and New
Zealand religious “nones” are projected to decline as a
share of the world’s population in the coming decades due
to a combination of low fertility and an older age profile.
Between 2015 and 2020, religious “nones” are projected to
experience a net gain of 7.6 million people due to religious
switching; people who grew up as Christians are expected to
make up the overwhelming majority of those who switch into
the unaffiliated group.12 Still, if current religious switching
patterns continue, gains made through religious
disaffiliation will not be large enough to make up for
population losses due to other demographic factors.
For example, the 2015 to 2020 total fertility rate for
religiously unaffiliated women is projected to be 1.6 children
per woman, nearly a full child less than the rate of 2.5
children per woman for religiously affiliated women. And
although religious “nones” tend to be younger than
religiously affiliated people in the United States, the
opposite is true at the global level: Unaffiliated women are
older than the affiliated and thus more likely to be past their
prime childbearing years. In 2015, the global median age
for the female unaffiliated population was 36, compared
with 30 for the religiously affiliated.
These demographic patterns are heavily influenced by the
situation in Asia, and particularly China, which was home to
61% of the world’s unaffiliated population in 2015.
12 For further analysis of the different trajectories of religiously affiliated and unaffiliated populations, see Hackett, Conrad, Marcin Stonawski,
Michaela Potančoková, Brian J. Grim and Vegard Skirbekk. 2015. The Future Size of Religiously Affiliated and Unaffiliated Populations.”
Demographic Research.
Sidebar: What Americans believe and expect about the global size of religious groups
Before releasing projections of the future size of
religious groups in 2015, 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.
About half of Americans (52%) have an accurate idea of
which religious group is currently the largest in the
world, correctly saying that Christians make up the
largest religious group, while a quarter think (incorrectly)
that Muslims are largest. Fewer U.S. adults say that
people with no religion (15%) or Hindus (6%) are the
largest religious group.
The survey also asked Americans how they expect the
share of the global population with no religion to change
in the coming decades. Most Americans (62%) predict
that the global share of religious “nones” will increase between now and 2050 an expectation perhaps colored
by what is happening on a national level.
Indeed, in the U.S. and many other Western nations, the unaffiliated share of the population has been increasing
and is expected to continue to rise as many Christians
and others shed their religious identity and as younger,
less religious generations replace older, more religious
ones. However, because most religious “nones” live in
Asia, where the religiously unaffiliated population is
relatively old and has relatively low fertility, Pew
Research Center projects that the global unaffiliated
population will decline in the decades ahead, even after
factoring in expected gains via religious switching. Only
15% of U.S. adults surveyed expect that people with no
religion will decline as a share of the global population
by 2050.13
Asked which group they expect to have the most
adherents globally in 2050, Americans are closely
13 Although projections in this report extend to 2060, the first report on Pew Research Center’s global projections for major religious groups
stopped at 2050. 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 2050 (rather than 2060).
About half of Americans know that
Christians are largest global religious
% of
U.S. adults who say the world’s largest religious
group is currently …
People with no religion
Don’t know/refused
Source: Survey conducted Nov. 17
-Dec.15, 2014.
Changing Global Religious Landscape”
Most predict global growth of religious
‘nones’ in coming decades
% of U.S. adults who expect the share of the
population with no religion
to ____ between now and
about the same 22
Don’t know/refused
Source: Survey
conducted Nov. 17-Dec.15, 2014.
“The Changing Global Religious Landscape”
divided among those who say
religious “nones” (33%), Christians
(32%) and Muslims (29%). A small
share (4%) anticipates that Hindus
will be the largest group.
Expectations about which group will
become the largest vary by
respondents’ age, religion and
political party affiliation. For
instance, nearly half (46%) of U.S.
adults under 30 predict that people
with no religion will outnumber
Christians, Muslims and Hindus in
2050, while only about three-in-ten
of those ages 50 and older
anticipate that religious “nones” will
be the largest group at mid-century.
Meanwhile, older Americans are
more likely than young adults (under
30) to say that Muslims will be the
largest group.
Christians are more likely than religious “nones” to say that Christians will be the largest group in 2050 (36% vs.
22%). And the unaffiliated are more likely than Christians to say people with no religion will be the largest group
at mid-century: 44% of religious “nones” say this will be the case, compared with 31% of Christians.
Differences in expectations about the future size of religious groups also are apparent across the political
spectrum. Americans who identify with or lean toward the Republican Party are more likely than those who
identify as or lean Democratic to predict that Muslims will make up the largest religious group in the world in
2050 (36% vs. 25%). By contrast, Democrats are more likely than Republicans (35% vs. 29%) to expect that
people with no religion will be the largest group.
Young adults and the religiously unaffiliated among
most likely to think people with no religion will be the
largest group in 2050
% of U.S. adults who say the largest group
globally will be
with no
33% 32% 29% 4% 2%
Ages 18
-29 46 29 20 4 <1
-49 32 35 27 5 2
-64 28 34 32 3 3
29 26 38 1 6
31 36 28 3 3
44 22 26 7 1
29 31 36 2 2
35 33 25 4 2
Survey conducted Nov. 17-Dec. 15, 2014.
“The Changing Global
Religious Landscape”
How births and deaths are changing religious populations
As the world’s largest religious group, Christians
had the most births and deaths of any group
between 2010 and 2015. During this five-year
period, an estimated 223 million babies were
born to Christian mothers and roughly 107
million Christians died, meaning that the
natural increase in the Christian population
i.e., the number of births minus the number of
deathswas 116 million over this period.
Muslims had the second-largest number of
births between 2010 and 2015, with 213 million
babies born to Muslim mothers. But Muslims
saw the largest natural increase of any religious
group more than 152 million peopledue to
the relatively small number of Muslim deaths (61
million). This large natural increase results from
both high Muslim fertility and the concentration
of the Muslim population in younger age groups,
which have lower mortality rates.
Compared with the overall size of the religiously
unaffiliated population (16% of the world’s
people), there were relatively few recent births to unaffiliated mothers (10% of all births between
2010 and 2015). Religious “nones” are the third-largest group overall, and yet due to lower levels
of fertility, they rank fourth behind Hindus in terms of babies born. Between 2010 and 2015, an
estimated 68 million babies were born to unaffiliated mothers, compared with 109 million to
Hindu mothers. Hindus also saw a much larger natural increase than the religiously unaffiliated
(67 million vs. 26 million).
Births also outnumbered deaths among other major religious groups between 2010 and 2015,
including among Buddhists, Jews and members of folk or traditional religions.
Beyond 2015, Christian and Muslim mothers are expected to give birth to increasing numbers of
babies through 2060. But Muslim births are projected to rise at a faster rateso much so that by
2035 the number of babies born to Muslim mothers will narrowly surpass the number born to
Christian mothers. Between 2055 and 2060, the birth gap between the two groups is expected to
approach 6 million (232 million births among Muslims vs. 226 million births among Christians).
By contrast, the total number of births is projected to decline steadily between 2015 and 2060 for
all other major religious groups. The drop-off in births will be especially dramatic for Hindus
who are expected to see 33 million fewer births between 2055 and 2060 than between 2010 and
2015 due in large part to declining fertility in India, which is home to 94% of the global Hindu
population as of 2015.
The number of deaths is projected to increase for all religious groups between 2015 and 2060, as
the world’s population continues to grow and grow older.14
14 These projections do not take into account potential future medical or technological advancements that could increase lifespans.
Regional and country-level patterns of births and deaths
For religious groups in most countries, there is currently either positive natural increase (more
births than deaths) or little net change due to births and deaths. But many European countries are
experiencing a natural decrease (more deaths than births) in the populations of certain religious
groups, especially Christians.
Throughout Eastern Europe and parts of Western Europe, deaths outnumbered births among
Christians between 2010 and 2015 in 24 of 42 countries. Deaths also outnumbered births by at
least 10,000 among religiously unaffiliated populations in Austria, Ukraine and Russia. But
religious “nones” in most European countries saw either a positive natural increase (in 19
countries) or little net change during the period
from 2010 to 2015 (in 20 countries). This
reflects the relatively young age profile of the
religiously unaffiliated compared with the
Christian population in Europe.
Among Muslims, there were no European
countries where the number of deaths exceeded
the number of births. Throughout most of the
region, the number of babies born to Muslim
women exceeded the number of Muslim deaths
between 2010 and 2015 (in 21 countries). In
Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy, Russia
and France, there were at least 250,000 more
Muslim births than deaths in each country over
that period. At the same time, migration is also
driving Muslim population growth in Europe.
No Christian, Muslim or unaffiliated
populations living in countries outside of Europe experienced more deaths than births in the 2010
to 2015 period. Similarly, other religious groups saw either positive natural increase or little net
change, with a few exceptions: Buddhists in Japan, Hindus in South Africa and adherents of folk
religions in South Korea and Tanzania had a larger number of deaths than births between 2010
and 2015.
Natural increase by religion, 2010
Number of countries where
estimated …
Births exceeded
deaths by 10,000+
Deaths exceeded
births by 10,000+
131 24
106 ---
22 1
21 1
religions 46 2
4 ---
Other religions
Total population
165 18
Note: Counts of countries
for which differences are less than
10,000 not shown.
Source: Pew
Research Center demographic projections. See
Methodology for details.
“The Changing Global Religious Landscape”
There are important regional differences in birth
and death trends for some religious groups. Among
Christians, for example, sub-Saharan Africa
experienced the biggest natural increase between
2010 and 2015 with 64 million more births than
deathsfollowed by smaller Christian increases in
Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia and the
Pacific and North America.
In Europe, however, Christian deaths already
outnumber birthsa deficit that is projected to
grow through 2060. And in North America, the
number of Christian deaths will begin to exceed the
number of births by around 2050.
These trends signal that much of Christianity’s
future growth is likely to be in the global South,
particularly in sub-Saharan Africathe only
region where natural increases in the Christian
population are expected to grow even larger in the
coming decades. (This means that not only will
there continue to be more Christian births than
deaths in sub-Saharan Africa, but births will exceed
deaths by even larger numbers in upcoming five-
year periods.) In Latin America and the Asia-
Pacific region, the number of Christian births will
continue to exceed the number of deaths through
2060, but the natural increases in the 2055 to
2060 time period will be much smaller than they
are now as these regions experience significant
declines in fertility.
istian population shares and projected natural
increase by region, 2010
% global
% global
-Saharan Africa 26% 42%
Latin America
-Caribbean 25 22
-Pacific 13 13 17,68
24 14 -
North America
12 9
Middle East
-North Africa 1 1
100 100
Source: Pew
Research Center demographic projections. See Methodology for details.
“The Changing Global Religious Landscape”
The global Muslim population also is projected to
undergo an important geographic shift toward
sub-Saharan Africa. 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 2010
and 2015.
But sub-Saharan Africa’s Muslims also
experienced far more births than deaths during
this period, and the natural increases in the
Muslim population in sub-Saharan Africa are
projected to grow even larger in the five-year
periods ahead, driven by high fertility. By about
2040, 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 2060,
but they will grow at a slower rate.
Muslims in Europe and North America also are
expected to have more births than deaths through
Muslim population shares and
projected natural
increase by region, 2010
% global
% global
-Pacific 61% 50%
Middle East
-North Africa 20 20
-Saharan Africa 16 27
3 3
North America
0.2 0.4
Latin America
-Caribbean <0.1 <0.1
100 100
Source: Pew
Research Center demographic projections. See Methodology for details.
“The Changing Global Religious Landscape”
Currently, there are more births than deaths
among religious “nones” in all regions, led by the
Asia-Pacific region, which is home to a majority of
the global religiously unaffiliated population.
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 2030, a change driven by
low fertility and a relatively old unaffiliated
population in China. By 2035, unaffiliated deaths
are expected to outnumber births in Europe as
Unaffiliated population
shares and projected natural
increase by region, 2010
% global
% global
-Pacific 75% 66%
12 14
North America
6 10
Latin America
-Caribbean 4 5
-Saharan Africa 2 5
Middle East
-North Africa 0.2 0.3
100 100
Source: Pew
Research Center demographic projections. See Methodology for details.
“The Changing Global Religious Landscape”
Afghanistan * 4,560,000 * * * * * * 4,570,000
Albania * 90,000 * * * * * * 100,000
Algeria * 2,570,000 50,000 * * * * * 2,630,000
Angola 2,420,000 * 140,000 * * 110,000 * * 2,680,000
Argentina 1,630,000 * 220,000 * * * * * 1,870,000
Armenia 90,000 * * * * * * * 90,000
Australia 290,000 70,000 320,000 30,000 40,000 10,000 10,000 * 770,000
Austria –40,000 30,000 –30,000 * * * * * –30,000
Azerbaijan * 550,000 * * * * * * 560,000
Bahamas 20,000 * * * * * * * 20,000
Bahrain * 80,000 * * * * * * 100,000
Bangladesh 30,000 9,710,000 * 610,000 60,000 * * * 10,430,000
Belarus –130,000 * * * * * * * –140,000
Belgium –120,000 70,000 90,000 * * * * * 50,000
Belize 30,000 * * * * * * * 30,000
Benin 660,000 330,000 80,000 * * 220,000 * * 1,290,000
Bhutan * * * 10,000 40,000 * * * 50,000
Bolivia 920,000 * 40,000 * * * * * 980,000
–40,000 * * * * * * * –40,000
Botswana 80,000 * * * * * * * 90,000
Brazil 7,300,000 * 1,100,000 * * 80,000 * * 8,490,000
Brunei * 20,000 * * * * * * 30,000
Bulgaria –220,000 10,000 10,000 * * * * * –190,000
Burkina Faso 570,000 1,810,000 10,000 * * 410,000 * * 2,810,000
Appendix A: Natural increase (number of births minus
number of deaths) by country and religion: 2010-2015
Positive values indicate more births than deaths; negative values indicate more deaths than births.
*Indicates absolute value of natural increase during the period was less than 10,000 people
World 115,820,000 152,500,000 26,240,000 66,900,000 12,050,000 13,330,000 1,320,000 450,000 388,600,000
Asia-Pacific 17,680,000 79,520,000 16,850,000 66,460,000 11,720,000 9,600,000 960,000 * 202,790,000
Europe –5,640,000 2,290,000 1,440,000 70,000 50,000 20,000 20,000 * –1,750,000
Latin America-
32,570,000 20,000 3,130,000 20,000 10,000 260,000 50,000 10,000 36,080,000
Middle East-
North Africa
910,000 32,090,000 190,000 130,000 40,000 130,000 20,000 370,000 33,890,000
North America 5,810,000 320,000 2,380,000 190,000 230,000 50,000 100,000 70,000 9,150,000
64,480,000 38,240,000 2,250,000 30,000 * 3,260,000 180,000 * 108,450,000
The Changing Global Religious Landscape
140,000 160,000 10,000 40,000 1,570,000 120,000 * * 2,050,000
Burundi 770,000 30,000 * * * 70,000 * * 870,000
Cambodia * 20,000 * * 990,000 * * * 1,020,000
Cameroon 1,450,000 500,000 140,000 * * 70,000 60,000 * 2,220,000
Canada 120,000 60,000 330,000 40,000 10,000 20,000 20,000 20,000 640,000
Cape Verde 30,000 * * * * * * * 40,000
Central African
390,000 40,000 * * * * * * 440,000
Chad 720,000 900,000 40,000 * * 20,000 * * 1,680,000
Chile 650,000 * 70,000 * * * * * 720,000
China 2,530,000 1,750,000 12,280,000 * 6,960,000 6,400,000 300,000 * 30,210,000
Colombia 2,920,000 * 240,000 * * 30,000 * * 3,190,000
Comoros * 110,000 * * * * * * 110,000
Costa Rica 240,000 * 20,000 * * * * * 260,000
Croatia –40,000 * * * * * * * –50,000
Cuba 70,000 * 30,000 * * 20,000 * * 110,000
Cyprus 20,000 * * * * * * * 30,000
Czech Republic –150,000 * 180,000 * * * * * 30,000
Dem. Rep.
of the Congo
8,960,000 140,000 120,000 * * 60,000 * * 9,300,000
Denmark * 20,000 10,000 * * * * * 30,000
Djibouti * 80,000 * * * * * * 90,000
650,000 * 110,000 * * * * * 770,000
Ecuador 1,040,000 * 60,000 * * * * * 1,110,000
Egypt 210,000 7,090,000 * * * * * * 7,300,000
El Salvador 360,000 * 50,000 * * * * * 420,000
Equatorial Guinea 70,000 * * * * * * * 80,000
Eritrea 480,000 280,000 * * * * * * 760,000
Ethiopia 5,190,000 3,750,000 * * * 180,000 * * 9,120,000
Fed. States of
10,000 * * * * * * * 10,000
Fiji 40,000 * * 20,000 * * * * 60,000
Finland 20,000 * 20,000 * * * * * 40,000
France 380,000 270,000 420,000 * * 10,000 * 20,000 1,100,000
French Guiana 20,000 * * * * * * * 20,000
French Polynesia 10,000 * * * * * * * 20,000
Gabon 110,000 20,000 * * * * * * 150,000
Gambia * 260,000 * * * * * * 270,000
Georgia –20,000 20,000 * * * * * * *
Germany –1,360,000 390,000 50,000 * * * * * –910,000
Ghana 2,100,000 630,000 70,000 * * 140,000 * * 2,940,000
Greece –30,000 10,000 * * * * * * –30,000
Guadeloupe 10,000 * * * * * * * 10,000
Guam 10,000 * * * * * * * 10,000
Guatemala 1,910,000 * 80,000 * * 10,000 * * 2,000,000
Guinea 140,000 1,150,000 20,000 * * 30,000 * * 1,340,000
Guinea Bissau 30,000 80,000 * * * 50,000 * * 170,000
Guyana 40,000 * * * * * * * 50,000
Haiti 780,000 * 100,000 * * * * * 890,000
Honduras 730,000 * 90,000 * * 10,000 * * 840,000
Hong Kong 30,000 * 30,000 * 10,000 * * * 80,000
Hungary –210,000 * 50,000 * * * * * –160,000
Iceland 10,000 * * * * * * * 10,000
India 1,600,000 19,000,000 20,000 62,830,000 490,000 390,000 650,000 * 84,970,000
Indonesia 1,850,000 11,010,000 * 90,000 60,000 * 10,000 * 13,020,000
Iran * 4,090,000 * * * * * * 4,090,000
Iraq 40,000 4,890,000 * * * * * * 4,930,000
Ireland 200,000 * 10,000 * * * * * 220,000
Israel * 170,000 20,000 * * * * 370,000 580,000
Italy –700,000 280,000 40,000 * * * * * –370,000
Ivory Coast 930,000 890,000 190,000 * * 240,000 * * 2,260,000
Jamaica 120,000 * 20,000 * * * * * 150,000
Japan * * 1,260,000 * –1,830,000 * –140,000 * –730,000
Jordan 10,000 640,000 * * * * * * 650,000
Kazakhstan 10,000 860,000 30,000 * * * * * 920,000
Kenya 5,030,000 660,000 90,000 * * 50,000 40,000 * 5,870,000
Kosovo * 50,000 * * * * * * 50,000
Kuwait 30,000 130,000 * 20,000 * * * * 200,000
Kyrgyzstan 10,000 460,000 * * * * * * 470,000
Laos * * * * 270,000 230,000 * * 510,000
Latvia –50,000 * 10,000 * * * * * –30,000
Lebanon 70,000 100,000 * * * * * * 170,000
Lesotho 130,000 * * * * * * * 130,000
Liberia 520,000 60,000 * * * * * * 590,000
Libya 20,000 560,000 * * * * * * 580,000
Lithuania –40,000 * * * * * * * –50,000
Madagascar 2,610,000 110,000 270,000 * * 160,000 * * 3,150,000
Malawi 2,250,000 330,000 20,000 * * 40,000 * * 2,640,000
Malaysia 220,000 1,720,000 10,000 110,000 140,000 40,000 * * 2,250,000
Maldives * 20,000 * * * * * * 20,000
Mali 50,000 2,490,000 20,000 * * 50,000 * * 2,610,000
Mauritania * 430,000 * * * * * * 430,000
Mauritius 10,000 * * 20,000 * * * * 30,000
Mayotte * 30,000 * * * * * * 30,000
Mexico 7,620,000 * 460,000 * * * * * 8,090,000
Moldova –10,000 * * * * * * * –20,000
Mongolia * 10,000 90,000 * 120,000 * * * 230,000
Morocco * 2,120,000 * * * * * * 2,120,000
Mozambique 1,670,000 470,000 400,000 * * 240,000 * * 2,780,000
Namibia 200,000 * * * * * * * 200,000
Nepal 10,000 190,000 * 2,190,000 230,000 100,000 * * 2,730,000
Netherlands –40,000 70,000 140,000 * * * * * 190,000
New Caledonia 10,000 * * * * * * * 10,000
The Changing Global Religious Landscape
New Zealand 40,000 * 110,000 * * * * * 160,000
Nicaragua 460,000 * 80,000 * * * * * 550,000
Niger 30,000 2,960,000 30,000 * * * * * 3,020,000
Nigeria 8,680,000 12,630,000 40,000 * * 340,000 * * 21,700,000
North Korea 10,000 * 360,000 * * 60,000 70,000 * 510,000
Norway 50,000 20,000 20,000 * * * * * 100,000
Oman 10,000 170,000 * * * * * * 200,000
Pakistan 270,000 16,810,000 * 330,000 * * * * 17,420,000
* 620,000 * * * * * * 630,000
Panama 230,000 * 10,000 * * * * * 260,000
Papua New
780,000 * * * * * * * 790,000
Paraguay 590,000 * * * * 10,000 * * 610,000
Peru 2,020,000 * 80,000 * * 20,000 * * 2,130,000
Philippines 8,310,000 700,000 * * * 160,000 10,000 * 9,190,000
Poland 10,000 * 50,000 * * * * * 60,000
Portugal –80,000 * * * * * * * –80,000
Puerto Rico 90,000 * * * * * * * 90,000
Qatar 10,000 60,000 * 10,000 * * * * 100,000
Republic of
–30,000 40,000 * * * * * * *
of the Congo
480,000 * 20,000 * * 10,000 * * 520,000
Reunion 40,000 * * * * * * * 50,000
Romania –210,000 * * * * * * * –210,000
Russia –1,360,000 270,000 –530,000 * * * * * –1,630,000
Rwanda 1,610,000 40,000 20,000 * * * * * 1,670,000
Samoa 20,000 * * * * * * * 20,000
Sao Tome and
20,000 * * * * * * * 20,000
Saudi Arabia 100,000 2,240,000 10,000 30,000 * * * * 2,400,000
Senegal 50,000 1,780,000 * * * * * * 1,830,000
Serbia –140,000 20,000 * * * * * * –120,000
Sierra Leone 120,000 530,000 * * * * * * 660,000
Singapore 20,000 50,000 20,000 20,000 20,000 * * * 130,000
Slovakia * * 20,000 * * * * * 20,000
Solomon Islands 70,000 * * * * * * * 70,000
Somalia * 1,410,000 * * * * * * 1,410,000
South Africa 1,460,000 30,000 150,000 –20,000 * 10,000 * * 1,630,000
South Korea 310,000 * 620,000 * 40,000 –10,000 * * 960,000
South Sudan 730,000 70,000 * * * 400,000 * * 1,210,000
Spain 40,000 150,000 260,000 * * * * * 450,000
Sri Lanka 60,000 170,000 * 180,000 700,000 * * * 1,110,000
Sudan 230,000 3,850,000 40,000 * * 120,000 * * 4,240,000
Suriname 20,000 * * * * * * * 30,000
Swaziland 80,000 * * * * * * * 90,000
Sweden –40,000 50,000 90,000 * * * * * 110,000
Switzerland 20,000 30,000 10,000 * * * * * 60,000
Syria 100,000 1,820,000 40,000 * * * * * 1,960,000
Taiwan 30,000 * 50,000 * * 20,000 * * 100,000
Tajikistan 10,000 760,000 10,000 * * * * * 790,000
Tanzania 5,140,000 2,370,000 160,000 * * –30,000 * * 7,630,000
Thailand 20,000 270,000 * * 1,060,000 * * * 1,350,000
Timor-Leste 180,000 * * * * * * * 180,000
Togo 240,000 90,000 40,000 * * 270,000 * * 650,000
Tonga 10,000 * * * * * * * 10,000
Trinidad and
30,000 * * * * * * * 40,000
Tunisia * 560,000 * * * * * * 560,000
Tur ke y 20,000 4,190,000 50,000 * * * * * 4,280,000
Turkmenistan 20,000 320,000 * * * * * * 350,000
Uganda 5,030,000 720,000 30,000 20,000 * 50,000 * * 5,850,000
Ukraine –860,000 20,000 –350,000 * * * * * –1,180,000
United Arab
50,000 330,000 * 30,000 * * * * 420,000
United Kingdom –450,000 340,000 880,000 40,000 10,000 * * * 820,000
United States 5,680,000 260,000 2,050,000 150,000 210,000 30,000 80,000 40,000 8,510,000
Uruguay 40,000 * 50,000 * * * * * 90,000
Uzbekistan * 2,030,000 10,000 * * * * * 2,040,000
Vanuatu 30,000 * * * * * * * 30,000
Venezuela 1,990,000 * 190,000 * * * * * 2,200,000
Vietnam 520,000 * 1,500,000 * 720,000 2,030,000 20,000 * 4,800,000
Western Sahara * 40,000 * * * * * * 40,000
Yemen * 4,040,000 * 30,000 * * * * 4,070,000
Zambia 2,200,000 10,000 * * * * 20,000 * 2,250,000
Zimbabwe 980,000 * 60,000 * * 40,000 * * 1,100,000
Appendix B: Methodology for this report
This report is part of the Pew-Templeton Global Religious Futures population projections project
that produced the 2015 report The Future of World Religions: Population Growth Projections,
2010-2050.” The figures described in this report, including estimated births and deaths by
religion and 2015 global population sizes, have not been previously reported. This report also
presents results from a November 2014 survey that asked U.S. adults which religious group they
think is largest and their expectations for religious change in the decades ahead.
This appendix describes unique aspects of the methodology for this report. A description of the full
projections methodology that accompanied the 2015 report is included as Appendix C. Note that
Appendix C extensively discusses the 2010 baseline for the projections. The results in this report
focus on expected change between 2010 and 2015, including estimates of 2015 population sizes, as
well as expected change through 2060.
Appendix D lists the sources used for each country. Appendix E describes the major religious
group categories. Finally, Appendix F is a topline describing the November 2014 survey results.
The remainder of this appendix briefly describes the methodology behind the population
projections and how births and deaths were estimated for this report. It also describes the
American Trends Panel, on which the November 2014 survey was conducted.
About the population projections
While many people have offered predictions about the future of religion, Pew Research Center has
undertaken the first formal demographic projections using data on age, fertility, mortality,
migration and religious switching for multiple religious groups around the world. Demographers
at Pew Research Center in Washington, D.C., and the International Institute for Applied Systems
Analysis (IIASA) in Laxenburg, Austria, gathered the input data from more than 2,500 censuses,
surveys and population registers since 2009.15
The projections cover eight major groups: Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Jews, Muslims,
adherents of folk religions, adherents of other religions and the unaffiliated. Because censuses and
surveys in many countries do not provide information on religious subgroups such as Sunni and
Shia Muslims or Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox Christians the projections are for each
15 Research carried out at IIASA was also supported by a European Research Council grant (ERC-2009 StG 241003-COHORT) to Vegard
religious group as a whole. Data on subgroups of the unaffiliated are also unavailable in many
countries. As a result, separate projections are not possible for atheists or agnostics.
The projection model was developed in collaboration with researchers who are world leaders in
population projections methodology at the Age and Cohort Change Project at IIASA. The model
uses an advanced version of the cohort-component method typically employed by demographers
to forecast population growth. It starts with a population of baseline age groups, or cohorts,
divided by sex and religion. Each cohort is projected into the future by adding likely gains
(immigrants and people switching in) and by subtracting likely losses (deaths, emigrants and
people switching out) year by year. The youngest cohorts, ages 0 to 4, are created by applying age-
specific fertility rates to each female cohort in the childbearing years (ages 15 to 49), with children
inheriting the mother’s religion.16
In the process of gathering input data and developing the projection model, Pew Research Center
previously published reports on the current size and geographic distribution of major religious
groups, including Muslims (2009), Christians (2011) and several other faiths (2012). An initial set
of projections for one religious group, Muslims, was published in 2011, although it did not attempt
to take religious switching into account. The first report on these projections was published in
Some social theorists have suggested that as countries develop economically, more of their
inhabitants will move away from religious affiliation. While that has been the general experience
in some parts of the world, notably Europe, it is not yet clear whether it is a universal pattern.17 In
any case, the projections in this report are not based on theories about economic development
leading to secularization.
Rather, the projections extend the recently observed patterns of religious switching in all countries
for which sufficient data are available (70 countries in all). In addition, the projections reflect the
United Nations Population Division’s expectation that in countries with high fertility rates, those
rates gradually will decline in coming decades, alongside rising female educational attainment.
And the projections assume that people gradually are living longer in most countries.
16 How accurate have population projections using the cohort-component method been in the past? An overview of how previous projections
for general populations compare with actual population trends is provided in the National Research Council’s 2000 book “Beyond Six Billion:
Forecasting the World’s Population.”
17 For example, there is little evidence of economic development leading to religious disaffiliation in Muslim-majority countries. In Hindu-
majority India, religious affiliation remains nearly universal despite rapid social and economic change. And in China, religious affiliation
though very difficult to measure may be rising along with economic development.
Some cautionary words about these projections are essential. Population projections are estimates
built on current population data and assumptions about demographic trends, such as declining
birth rates and rising life expectancies in particular countries. The projections are what will occur
if the current data are accurate and current trends continue. But many events scientific
discoveries, armed conflicts, social movements, political upheavals, natural disasters and changing
economic conditions, to name just a few can shift demographic trends in unforeseen ways. For
example, China’s 1.4 billion people (as of 2015) loom very large in global trends. At present, about
5% of China’s population is estimated to be Christian, and more than 51% is religiously
unaffiliated. Because reliable figures on religious switching in China are not available, the
projections do not contain any forecast for conversions in the world’s most populous country. But
if Christianity expands in China in the decades to come as some experts predict then by 2060,
the global numbers of Christians may be higher than projected, and the decline in the percentage
of the world’s population that is religiously unaffiliated may be even sharper than projected.18
Finally, readers should bear in mind that within every major religious group, there is a spectrum of
belief and practice. The projections are based on the number of people who self-identify with each
religious group, regardless of their level of observance. What it means to be Christian, Muslim,
Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish or a member of any other faith may vary from person to person, country
to country, and decade to decade.
For a more complete description of the projections methodology that accompanied the 2015
report, see Appendix C.
Estimates of births and deaths
This report is based on new analysis of previously unreleased data from the population projections
described in Pew Research Center’s 2015 report, The Future of World Religions: Population
Growth Projections, 2010-2050.” This is the first report to publish estimates of global births and
deaths by religion. Estimates of births and deaths by religion are generated from a population
projection model incorporating data on each group’s fertility rates, age and sex distribution and
the prevailing mortality rates in the countries where each group is concentrated. Unfortunately,
vital statistics data recording parent’s religion at birth and one’s religion at death are generally not
collected, so estimates of births and deaths by religion at the global level must be estimated rather
than directly measured.
18 Although there are many news stories and anecdotes about Christian growth in China, there is little nationally representative survey data
from this century that clearly validates these reports. In “A Star in the East: The Rise of Christianity in China,” Rodney Stark and Xiuhua Wang
also argue that Christianity in China is growing rapidly. However, they report that survey data commissioned from Horizon Ltd. found exactly
the same share of Protestants and Catholics in 2007 and 2014 despite the authors’ expectation that the 2014 survey would find clear
evidence of rapid Christian growth in the intervening years.
Religious composition in 2015 is projected from a 2010 baseline. The projection model is built on
the assumption that fertility and mortality rates will decline over time in countries that begin with
high fertility and mortality rates. For the 70 countries with available data, these projections take
into account patterns of religious switching. Projection results reported here extend to the year
Although this report contains different data points than the 2015 report, they share the same input
data and projection modeling. Updating all the input data for global religious projections is a
monumental undertaking, and in many countries the new data necessary for this work will not be
available until the 2020 wave of government censuses are complete. The Center’s prior global
projection report focused on 2010 and 2050. By focusing on the year 2015, this report provides a
more up-to-date estimate of the global religious landscape.
The American Trends Panel (ATP)
Data for the sidebar “What Americans believe and expect about the global size of religious groups
in this report are drawn from the November 2014 wave of Pew Research Center’s American Trends
Panel (ATP), a nationally representative panel of randomly selected U.S. adults living in
households. This wave of the ATP was conducted Nov. 17 to Dec. 15, 2014 among 3,212
respondents (2,856 by web and 356 by mail). The margin of sampling error for the full sample of
3,212 respondents is plus or minus 2.3 percentage points.
At the time the November 2014 wave of the ATP was conducted, respondents who self-identified
as internet users (representing 89% of U.S. adults) participated in the panel via monthly self-
administered web surveys; those who did not use the internet participated via telephone or mail.
The panel is managed by Abt SRBI.
All members of the American Trends Panel as of November 2014 were originally recruited from
the 2014 Political Polarization and Typology Survey, a large (n=10,013) national landline and
cellphone random-digit dial (RDD) survey conducted Jan. 23 to March 16, 2014, in English and
Spanish. At the end of that survey, respondents were invited to join the panel. The invitation was
extended to all respondents who use the internet (from any location) and a random subsample of
respondents who do not use the internet.19
Of the 10,013 adults interviewed, 9,809 were invited to take part in the panel. A total of 5,338
agreed to participate and provided either a mailing address or an email address to which a
welcome packet, a monetary incentive and future survey invitations could be sent. Panelists also
receive a small monetary incentive after participating in each wave of the survey.
The ATP data were weighted in a multistep process that begins with a base weight incorporating
the respondents’ original survey selection probability and the fact that some panelists were
subsampled for invitation to the panel. Next, an adjustment was made for the fact that the
propensity to join the panel and remain an active panelist varied across different groups in the
sample. The final step in the weighting uses an iterative technique that matches gender, age,
education, race, Hispanic origin and region to parameters from the U.S. Census Bureaus 2012
American Community Survey. Population density is weighted to match the 2010 U.S. Decennial
Census. Telephone service is weighted to estimates of telephone coverage for 2014 that were
projected from the National Health Interview Survey conducted from July to December 2013. It
19 When data collection for the 2014 Political Polarization and Typology Survey began, non-internet users were subsampled at a rate of 25%,
but a decision was made shortly thereafter to invite all non-internet users to join. In total, 83% of non-internet users were invited to join the
also adjusts for party affiliation using an average of the three most recent Pew Research Center
general public telephone surveys, and for internet use using as a parameter a measure from the
2014 Survey of Political Polarization. Sampling errors and statistical tests of significance take into
account the effect of weighting. The Hispanic sample in the American Trends Panel is
predominantly native born and English speaking.
The following table shows the unweighted sample sizes and the error attributable to sampling that
would be expected at the 95% level of confidence for different groups in the survey:
Sample sizes and sampling errors for other subgroups are available upon request.
In addition to sampling error, one should bear in mind that question wording and practical
difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of opinion polls.
The web component of the November 2014 wave had a response rate of 78% (2,856 responses
among 3,663web-based individuals enrolled in the panel); the mail component had a response
rate of 68% (356 responses among 521 non-web individuals enrolled in the panel). 20 Taking
account of the response rate for the 2014 Survey of Political Polarization (10.6%), the cumulative
response rate for the November 2014 ATP wave is 3.5%.
20 Prior to the October wave, 962 web panelists who had never responded were removed from the panel. Prior to the November wave, 37 mail
panelists who had never responded were removed from the panel. The web response rate including these panelists would have been 62%.
The mail response rate including these panelists would have been 64%.
sample size
Plus or minus …
Total sample
3,212 2.3 percentage points
Ages 18
-29 456 6.0 percentage points
-49 875 4.4 percentage points
-64 1,049 4.0 percentage points
817 4.5 percentage points
2,223 2.7 percentage points
705 4.9 percentage points
Republican/lean Rep.
1,347 3.5 percentage points
Democrat/lean Dem
. 1,625 3.2 percentage points
Since November 2014, several additional waves of the ATP have been conducted. For more
information about the ATP, see
... Spiritual and religious behaviors have been present since early stages of human evolution (1) and played a significant role in shaping most human societies (1)(2)(3)(4)(5). Today, over 80% of the global population identify as religious, and even more as spiritual (2,6). Defining and measuring these behaviors scientifically is possible. ...
... Our finding that spirituality and religiosity map better to a functionally connected brain circuit than an individual brain region is consistent with recent results across a range of complex human behaviors (27)(28)(29)(30) and may help explain why previous studies have implicated multiple different brain regions (6,14,15,17,43). Our spirituality circuit is defined by A Neural Circuit for Spirituality and Religiosity connectivity to one focal brain region (the PAG), similar to previous work identifying a memory circuit defined by connectivity to the subiculum or a depression circuit defined by connectivity to the left dorsal lateral prefrontal cortex (27,34). ...
Background Over 80% of the global population consider themselves religious with even more identifying as spiritual, but the neural substrates of spirituality and religiosity remain unresolved. Methods In two independent brain lesion datasets (N1=88; N2=105), we apply lesion network mapping to test whether lesion locations associated with spiritual and religious belief map to a specific human brain circuit. Results We found that brain lesions associated with self-reported spirituality map to a brain circuit centered on the periaqueductal grey. Intersection of lesion locations with this same circuit aligned with self-reported religiosity in an independent dataset, as well as prior reports of lesions associated with hyper-religiosity. Lesion locations causing delusions and alien limb syndrome also intersected this circuit. Conclusions These findings suggest that spirituality and religiosity map to a common brain circuit centered on the periaqueductal grey, a brainstem region previously implicated in fear conditioning, pain modulation, and altruistic behavior.
... In the last decade, the number of religious NGOs that participate in the COP has increased dramatically (see Table 5)-and those groups, and the World Council of Churches in particular [26], deserve plaudits-however, even after the growth, religious NGOs consist of a mere 3 percent of UNFCCC-accredited NGOs and about 4 percent of those registered to attend the COP. Although the scope of individual religiosity varies greatly by region, the vast majority of people on Earth have a religious affiliation [135]. Yet religious institutions-particularly those of Daoism/Taoism, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Shintoism, Sikhism and Zoroastrianism, whose combined adherents make up almost half of the world's population [135]-largely have been absent from the world's preeminent political meetings that are attempting to address the climate emergency, arguably the world's most pressing problem. ...
... Although the scope of individual religiosity varies greatly by region, the vast majority of people on Earth have a religious affiliation [135]. Yet religious institutions-particularly those of Daoism/Taoism, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Shintoism, Sikhism and Zoroastrianism, whose combined adherents make up almost half of the world's population [135]-largely have been absent from the world's preeminent political meetings that are attempting to address the climate emergency, arguably the world's most pressing problem. While their absence may be an outcome of the preeminence of the Global North at the UNFCCC-reflecting the coloniality of global-governance systems-and a result of insufficient efforts by the UNFCCC to engage religious groups, the bureaucratic burden of applying for accreditation, and the cost of participating in COPs, their absence also may reflect the world's ambivalence toward enacting a climate solution, which in turn may be a cause for the ongoing crisis: In a world dominated by religion, what faith can we have in a widely adopted climate cure without the support of religious institutions? ...
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How much is religion quantitatively involved in global climate politics? After assessing the role of the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change from a normative perspective, this descriptive, transdisciplinary and unconventional study offers the first comprehensive quantitative examination of religious nongovernmental organizations that formally participate in its annual meetings, the largest attempts to solve the climate crisis through global governance. This study finds that although their numbers are growing, only about 3 percent of registered nongovernmental organizations accredited to participate in the conference are overtly religious in nature—and that more than 80 percent of those faith-based groups are Christian. Additionally, this study finds that religious nongovernmental organizations that participate in the conference are mostly from the Global North. The results call for greater participation of religious institutions in the international climate negotiations in order for society to address the planetary emergency of climate change.
... Relatively recent reporting guidelines from the APA have encouraged more studies to report the effect sizes of the relationship between variables, increasing the number of viable studies to include. Furthermore, levels of religiosity have been shifting across the US and several world regions in recent decades, which may have led changes in the relationship between aspects of religion/spirituality and life satisfaction (Hackett & Stonawski, 2017). Third, research suggests that there are key moderators that need to be examined in the relationship between religion/ spirituality and well-being, including age, gender, culture, and aspects of religion that past work has not examined. ...
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Human engagement with religion and spirituality is pervasive across the world, yet the extent to which religious and/or spiritual involvement promotes well-being is controversial theoretically and empirically. In the largest meta-analysis of religion/spirituality and life satisfaction to date (k = 256, N = 666,085), an overall effect size was computed (r = .18; 95% CI .16–.19; p < .01). Five dimensions of religion/spirituality were then examined separately to gauge their relationships with life satisfaction. Each dimension of religion/spirituality was significantly and positively associated with life satisfaction: religiosity (r = .16, 95% CI .14–.17, p < .01), spirituality (r = .30, 95% CI .25–.35, p < .01), religious attendance (r = .11, 95% CI .09–.13, p < .01), religious practices (r = .14, 95% CI .10–.18, p < .01), and religious/spiritual experiences (r = .29, 95% CI .24–.33, p < .01). The overall effect was moderated by several study-related variables, with a stronger relationship found in samples with higher average age, in more recent studies, in developing nations, and in countries with a higher percentage of people who consider religion very important in their lives. The theoretical and practical implications of the meta-analysis are discussed.
... Christians are the largest religious group today, with 2.3 billion followers globally -approximately one-third of the world population. 10 Around half of them belong to the Roman Catholic Church. The Pentecostal-charismatic churches enjoy the fastest growth and are the most dynamic in the 20 th century. ...
... In 2021, there were about 1.9 billion Muslims globally (World Population Review, W. P, 2021). By 2060, it is anticipated that the global Muslim population will reach 3 billion or 31.1% of the world's population (Hackett, 2017). Therefore, supported by the expanding Muslim population, the halal market is emerging as a capable large-scale market to meet Muslims' requirements for halal products (Amalia et al., 2020). ...
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Purpose The purpose of this study is to develop an extended theory of planned behavior (TPB) model by adding religious commitment (RC) and self-efficacy as internal variables and investigating the effect of these variables on attitudes toward halal cosmetics. In addition, this study also examined the moderating role of halal literacy in the relationships between attitudes (ATT), subjective norms (SN), perceived behavioral control (PBC) and intentions to purchase halal cosmetics. Design/methodology/approach The method of data collection used was self-administered surveys with customers in two stores in Karachi, Pakistan, yielding 267 valid questionnaires. To guarantee validity and reliability, convergent and discriminant validity analyses were conducted, and structural equation modeling was advanced to assess the relationships between variables using smart partial least squares 3.0 software. The interaction moderation technique has been used to examine the moderating effect of halal literacy on the purchase intention (PI) of halal cosmetics. Findings The results show that RC and self-efficacy both significantly impact the attitudes of Gen Y. Normative beliefs also had a significant relationship with SN. Further, ATT and SN had a significant relationship with PI of halal cosmetics, while PBC was nonsignificant. Furthermore, halal literacy is found to have a positive moderating influence on ATT and PI, and SN and PI. Finally, the moderating effect of halal literacy does not exist in the relationship between PBC and PI. Research limitations/implications Participants’ characteristics should vary for future studies, and larger sample sizes may yield different results. It is critical for managers working in the cosmetic industry to monitor Muslim consumption patterns to develop strategies to reach Muslim consumers. This study reveals the effect of RC, self-efficacy and the moderating role of halal literacy on the behavioral attitudes of a booming market sector, which can guide marketing managers in developing more effective advertising campaigns. Originality/value This paper contributes to the halal consumption literature by exploring RC and self-efficacy as constructs for the very first time in the TPB model. To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this study is the first to explore the influence of halal literacy on Gen Y Pakistani Muslim consumer behavioral intention toward halal cosmetic products using the TPB model. The paper offers an extended TPB model framework that may be of interest to scholars, marketers and policymakers.
... First, in terms of the increase in the number of followers, Islam is expeditiously expanding religion in the different corners of the world (Ireland and Abdollah Rajabzadeh, 2011). Second, the Muslim population is rising, and it can be the largest population by 2070 (Hackett, 2017). Third, because of a large consumer market, their volume of market shares is also big. ...
Full-text available
Purpose Islamic marketing is an emerging field with a lot of potentials, so it is worthwhile to explore it. This paper aims to conduct research on the unexplored relationship of antecedents of the equity, image and consumers’ trust and satisfaction of halal brands. Design/methodology/approach A structured questionnaire was designed to conduct research to analyze the halal brand equity and its antecedents. Data were collected from 250 halal consumers of Kota Samarahan and Kuching, Malaysia through a self-administered questionnaire using a convenience sampling method. Findings The study finds a positive relationship of three antecedents of brand equity, which confirms a strong relationship between the image and satisfaction of halal brand equity. The results further showed that halal brand image is linked with halal brand trust, but the relationship between halal brand trust and its equity could not be proved. Research limitations/implications This has been a cross-sectional study that was limited to Malaysia, a Muslim majority country. Researchers can conduct a longitudinal study and can conduct it in non-Muslim societies to comprehend their diversity and wider impact. Additionally, this study was limited to halal food brands in Malaysia. Originality/value Islamic marketing has received great attention of researchers, academicians and practitioners that has rather been unexplored earlier particularly the relationships among antecedents of the equity, image and consumers’ trust and satisfaction of halal brands.
What determines which identity cleavage, ethnicity or religion, is mobilized in political contestation, be it peaceful or violent? In contrast to common predictions that the greatest contention occurs where identities are fully segmented, most identity conflicts in the world are between ethnic groups that share religion. Alternatives in Mobilization builds on the literature about political demography to address this seeming contradiction. The book proposes that variation in relative group size and intersection of cleavages help explain conundrums in the mobilization of identity, across transgressive and contained political settings. This theory is tested cross-nationally on identity mobilization in civil war and across violent conflict in Pakistan, Uganda, Nepal and Turkey, and peaceful electoral politics in Indonesia. This book helps illustrate a more accurate and improved picture of the ethnic and religious tapestry of the world and addresses an increasing need for a better understanding of how religion contributes to conflict.
In light of the social, economic, and environmental turmoil present in today’s world, capitalism is at the heart of fiery debates across many disciplines, including business, politics, and international development. While its proponents advocate for it as the mechanism that underlies the growth and sophistication of modern society, its detractors renounce it as a root cause of the growing inequality and environmental degradation in the world. Thus, the legitimacy of capitalism as an economic model capable of responding to the twenty-first century’s most pressing challenges is in serious question. The concept of conscious capitalism aims to legitimize capitalism by emphasizing its virtues that have the potential of fostering inclusive, equitable and sustainable social and economic development. While conscious capitalism continues to capture the attention of both academics and practitioners, we believe that it can be further legitimized, particularly in the Islamic context, by exploring its moral underpinnings from an Islamic perspective. To do so, we explore the compatibility of Islamic values with conscious capitalism. We conclude our chapter by suggesting that Islam and conscious capitalism offer complementary perspectives on business.KeywordsConscious capitalismIslamCapitalismReligionBusiness ethics
Cross-national studies of age patterns among couples have tended to compare the ages at which men and women first marry, but few have analysed age differences between current spouses or cohabiting partners (i.e. partner age gaps). We address this gap in the literature by using recent census and survey data to analyse age differences between current partners in 130 countries. Worldwide, men are an average of 4.2 years older than their wives or cohabiting partners. However, age gaps vary by region, ranging from 8.6 years in sub-Saharan Africa to 2.2 years in North America. The religious group with the largest age gap is Muslims (6.6 years), while the smallest age gap is seen among Jews (2.2 years). Differences between Muslims and non-Muslims remain even after controlling for country-level gender inequality and per-capita GDP. Supplementary material is available for this article at:
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The Holy Qur’an is among the most recited and memorized books in the world. For beautification of Qur’anic recitation, almost all reciters around the globe perform their recitations using a specific melody, known as maqām in Arabic. However, it is more difficult for students to learn this art compared to other techniques of Qur’anic recitation such as Tajwīd due to limited resources. Technological advancement can be utilized for automatic classification of these melodies which can then be used by students for self-learning. Using state-of-the-art deep learning algorithms, this research focuses on the classification of the eight popular maqāmāt (plural of maqam). Various audio features including Mel-frequency cepstral coefficients, spectral, energy and chroma features are obtained for model training. Several deep learning architectures including CNN, LSTM, and deep ANN are trained to classify audio samples from one of the eight maqāmāt. An accuracy of 95.7% on the test set is obtained using a 5-layer deep ANN which was trained using 26 input features. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first ever work that addresses maqam classification of Holy Qur’an recitations. We also introduce the “Maqam-478” dataset that can be used for further improvements on this work.
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