Pew Research Center report, The Future of World Religions: Population Growth Projections, 2010-2050, released sometimes ago, is the religious sketch of the world rapidly changing. Some highlights of recent report are, over the next four decades, Christians will remain the largest religious group, but Islam will grow faster than any other major religion and Hindu community will be the third largest in the world.
But report’s observation about India is very eye opening for Hindus. By 2050, India will have the distinction of having the largest populations of two of the three largest religions in the world—Islam and Hinduism. India is already abode to most of the world’s Hindus. In 2010, 94 per cent of the world’s Hindus lived in India, and this is expected to remain true in 2050, when 1.3 billion Hindus are projected to live in the country.
But India also is expected have 311 million Muslims in 2050 (11 per cent of the global total), making it the country with the largest population of Muslims in the world. Currently, Indonesia has the world’s largest number of Muslims.
Muslims are expected to grow faster than Hindus because they have the youngest median age and the highest fertility rates among major religious groups in India. In 2010, the median age of Indian Muslims was 22, compared with 26 for Hindus and 28 for Christians. Likewise, Muslim women have an average of 3.2 children per woman, compared with 2.5 for Hindus and 2.3 for Christians.
Due to these factors, though population of Hindus will increase but their percentage in overall population will go down. India’s Muslim community will expand faster than its Hindu population, rising from 14.4 per cent in 2010 to 18.4 per cent in 2050. While Hindus will make up more than three-in-four Indians (76.7 per cent) in 2050 which will be 3 percent lesser in comparison.
In Europe, Muslims will make up 10 per cent of the overall population. 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. As of 2010, Christianity was by far the world’s leading religion, with an estimated 2.2 billion followers, nearly a third (31 per cent) of all 6.9 billion people in world. Islam was second, with 1.6 billion adherents, or 23 per cent of the global population. By 2050, the world’s population is expected to rise to 9.3 billion, a 35 per cent increase. Over that same period, Muslims are projected to grow by 73 per cent,more than double of world population increase. The number of Christians also is projected to rise, but at about the same rate (35 per cent) as the global population overall. As a result, by 2050 there will be near parity between Muslims (2.8 billion, or 30 per cent of the population) and Christians (2.9 billion, or 31 per cent). With the exclusion of Buddhists, all of the world’s major religious groups are poised for at least some growth in absolute numbers in the coming decades. The global Buddhist population is expected to be stable. Worldwide, the Hindu population is projected to rise by 34 per cent, from a little over 1 billion to nearly 1.4 billion, Jews are expected to grow 16 per cent, from a little less than 14 million in 2010 to 16.1 million worldwide in 2050.
By Satish Pednekar