The religious profile of the world is changing, according to a new report from the Pew Research Center. The chief accelerators are fertility rates, size of youth populations, the numbers of people switching faiths, and the impact of international migrations. The writers of the report admit that there is a chance that unseen events such as war, famine, disease, technological innovation, or political upheaval could significantly alter the global religious landscape described here.
If current trends continue, by 2050:
- The number of Muslims will nearly equal the number of Christians around the world.
- Atheists, agnostics, and other people who do not affiliate with any religion -- though increasing in the United States and France -- will make up a declining share of the world's population.
- The global Buddhist population will be about the same size it was in 2010 while the Hindu and Jewish populations will be larger than they are today.
- In Europe, Muslims will make up 10% of the overall population.
- India will retain a Hindu majority but also will have the largest Muslim population of any country in the world, surpassing Indonesia.
- In the United States, Christians will decline from more than three-quarters of the population in 2010 to two-thirds in 2050, and Judaism will no longer be the largest non-Christian religion. Muslims will be more numerous in the U.S. than people who identify as Jewish on the basis of religion.
- Four out of every 10 Christians in the world will live in sub-Saharan Africa.
Read the entire study here: The Future of World Religions
Another resource to keep you posted on the future of world religions is the Pew-Templeton Global Religious Futures Project, which analyzes religious change and its impact on societies around the world. Its research is carried out by the Pew Research Center with generous funding from The Pew Charitable Trusts and the John Templeton Foundation. An interactive website for this material is development; over time, it will grow to include additional data from the Pew Research Center’s demographic studies and public opinion surveys in many more countries. Additional functionality for exploring and sharing the data will be made available as well.
The data currently in the Global Religious Futures database includes:
- Data on characteristics of the populations of 234 countries and territories in 2010 and projected through 2050
- Data on research questions related to government restrictions on religion and social hostilities involving religion in 198 countries and territories
- Select questions from two extensive public opinion surveys that cover more than 40 countries.