The religious profile of the world is rapidly changing, driven primarily by differences in fertility rates and the size of youth populations among the world’s major religions, as well as by people switching faiths. Over the next four decades, Christians will continue to make up the largest religious group, but Islam will grow faster than any other major religion. If current demographic trends continue, by 2050 the number of Muslims around the world (2.8 billion or 30% of the population) will nearly equal the number of Christians (2.9 billion, or 31%), possibly for the first time in history.
With the exception of Buddhists, all of the world’s major religious groups are poised for at least some growth in absolute numbers in the coming decades. Atheists, agnostics and other people who do not affiliate with any religion – though also increasing in absolute numbers – will make up a declining share of the world’s total population.
These are among the global religious trends highlighted in new demographic projections by the Pew Research Center. The report explores expected changes from 2010 to 2050 in the size and geographic distribution of eight major religious groups: Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Jews, Muslims, adherents of folk religions, other religions and the unaffiliated. To learn more, visit www.globalreligiousfutures.org.