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Pew study predicts dramatic growth of Muslims worldwide

January 28, 2011

Some interesting stats on the predicted growth of Islam worldwide from the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. Here are some of the key findings of the new report:

The world’s Muslim population is expected to increase by about 35% in the next 20 years, rising from 1.6 billion in 2010 to 2.2 billion by 2030, according to new population projections by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life.

Globally, the Muslim population is forecast to grow at about twice the rate of the non-Muslim population over the next two decades – an average annual growth rate of 1.5% for Muslims, compared with 0.7% for non-Muslims. If current trends continue, Muslims will make up 26.4% of the world’s total projected population of 8.3 billion in 2030, up from 23.4% of the estimated 2010 world population of 6.9 billion.

While the global Muslim population is expected to grow at a faster rate than the non-Muslim population, the Muslim population nevertheless is expected to grow at a slower pace in the next two decades than it did in the previous two decades. From 1990 to 2010, the global Muslim population increased at an average annual rate of 2.2%, compared with the projected rate of 1.5% for the period from 2010 to 2030.

One bit of data that stood out to me was the estimated Muslim population of the U.S., which has always been a debated figure. Pew says there are about 2.6 Muslims here now and predicts 6.2 by 2030. The growth, the report claims, will come from immigration and higher-than-average Muslim fertility rates. I know nada about population projections, but couldn’t this mean that American Muslims and Jews might be around the same size in 20 years? Oh, why yes, the report states, that’s exactly what it means. That could get interesting politically.

Still, I would like to see how Muslim growth worldwide compares to that of Christians. At first glance, the study shows that in Nigeria Muslims will have a slight edge over Christians in the coming decades. But I’m not sure if it gets into Muslim-Christian comparisons elsewhere.

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