Christians currently have the highest birth rate among all the world’s religions, which isn’t too surprising considering that Christianity remains the world’s most populated religious system.
But in the next two decades, the Pew Research Center projects that an intriguing shift is slated to take place: “Less than 20 years from now, the number of babies born to Muslims is expected to modestly exceed births to Christians.”
Christians currently make up 31.2 percent of the world, representing 2.3 billion people, while Muslims make up 24.1 percent, totaling 1.8 billion people, according to Pew.
But while Muslims made up just 24 percent of the world, they accounted for 31 percent of all babies born globally between 2010 and 2015. And that pattern isn’t slated to slow down, with Christians’ population growth moving slower.
In fact, while Christians made up 31 percent of the global population in 2015, they had 33 percent of the world’s babies. So, clearly, there’s a difference in birth rates between the two most populous faiths.
Between 2030 and 2035, Pew estimates that the proportion of Christian and Muslim births will be pretty close, with Muslims poised to have 225 million births versus 224 million births for Christians. Those numbers will increase between 2055 and 2060, though, to 232 million and 226 million, with the gap between Muslim and Christian births widening.
Despite this projected change, the proportion of Christians will still be higher than Muslims overall, but not by much.
By the time 2060 rolls around, Pew estimates that there will be 3,054,460,000 Christians and 2,987,390,000 Muslims, accounting for 31.8 percent and 31.1 percent of the global population, respectively.
Meaning: The two faiths will be quite close to one another when it comes to their collective global presence.
The new study also maps out changes among religiously unaffiliated individuals and finds that changes to the regional distribution of religious groups will likely unfold, among other important developments.
“The share of Christians worldwide who live in sub-Saharan Africa is expected to increase dramatically between 2015 and 2060, from 26 percent to 42 percent, due to high fertility in the region,” Pew said in a statement. “Meanwhile, religious switching and lower fertility will drive down the shares of the global Christian population living in Europe and North America.”
Read the study in its entirety here.
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