New report projects 35% global increase in Muslim population

By agency reporter
January 27, 2011

The world’s Muslim population is expected to increase by about 35 per cent in the next 20 years, rising from 1.6 billion in 2010 to 2.2 billion by 2030, according to a new, comprehensive report released today by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion and Public Life on the size, distribution and growth of the Muslim population.

The study is part of the Pew-Templeton Global Religious Futures project, an effort funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts and the John Templeton Foundation to analyse religious change and its impact on societies around the world.

Over the next two decades, the worldwide Muslim population is forecast to grow at about twice the rate of the non-Muslim population – an average annual growth rate of 1.5 per cent for Muslims compared with 0.7 per cent for non-Muslims.

If current trends continue, Muslims will make up 26.4 per cent of the world’s total projected population of 8.3 billion in 2030, up from 23.4 per cent of the estimated 2010 world population of 6.9 billion.

However, while the global Muslim population is predicted to grow at a faster rate than the non-Muslim population, it is also expected to grow at a slower pace in the next 20 years 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 per cent; for the period from 2010 to 2030, the rate of growth is projected to be 1.5 per cent.

'The Future of the Global Muslim Population' seeks to provide up-to-date estimates of the number of Muslims around the world in 2010 and to project the growth of the Muslim population from 2010 to 2030.

The report’s projections are based both on past demographic trends and on assumptions about how these trends will play out in future years. If current trends continue:


· Seventy-nine countries will have a million or more Muslim inhabitants in 2030, up from 72 countries today.

· A majority of the world’s Muslims (about 60 per cent) will continue to live in the Asia-Pacific region, while about 20 per cent will live in the Middle East and North Africa, as is the case today.

· Pakistan is expected to surpass Indonesia as the country with the single largest Muslim population.

· The portion of the world’s Muslims living in sub-Saharan Africa is projected to rise; for example, in 20 years more Muslims are likely to live in Nigeria than in Egypt.

· Muslims will remain relatively small minorities in Europe and the Americas, but they are expected to constitute a growing share of the total population in these regions.

· Sunni Muslims will continue to make up an overwhelming majority of Muslims in 2030 (87- 90 per cent). The portion of the world’s Muslims who are Shia may decline slightly, largely because of relatively low fertility in Iran, where more than a third of the world’s Shia Muslims live.

· As of 2010, about three-quarters of the world’s Muslims (74.1 per cent) live in the 49 countries in which Muslims make up a majority of the population. More than a fifth of all Muslims (23.3 per cent) live in non-Muslim-majority countries in the developing world. About three per cent of the world’s Muslims live in more-developed regions, such as Europe, North America, Australia, New Zealand and Japan.

In the Americas:

· The number of Muslims (adults and children) in the United States is projected to more than double – rising from 2.6 million (0.8 per cent of the total US population) in 2010 to 6.2 million (1.7 per cent) in 2030 – in large part because of immigration and higher-than-average fertility among Muslims, making Muslims roughly as numerous as Jews or Episcopalians are in the US today.

· Although several European countries will have substantially higher percentages of Muslims, the United States is projected to have a larger number of Muslims by 2030 than any European countries other than Russia and France.

· Children under age 15 make up a relatively small portion of the US Muslim population today. Only 13.1 per cent of Muslims are in the 0-14 age group. This reflects the fact that a large proportion of Muslims in the US are newer immigrants who arrived as adults. But by 2030, many of these immigrants are expected to start families. If current trends continue, the number of US Muslims under age 15 will more than triple, from fewer than 500,000 in 2010 to 1.8 million in 2030. The number of Muslim children ages 0-4 living in the US is expected to increase from fewer than 200,000 in 2010 to more than 650,000 in 2030.

· About two-thirds of the Muslims in the US. today (64.5 per cent) are first-generation immigrants (foreign-born), while slightly more than a third (35.5 per cent) were born in the US. By 2030, however, more than four-in-ten of the Muslims in the US (44.9 per cent) are expected to be native-born.

· The top countries of origin for Muslim immigrants to the US in 2009 were Pakistan and Bangladesh. They are expected to remain the top countries of origin for Muslim immigrants to the US in 2030.

· The number of Muslims in Canada is expected to nearly triple in the next 20 years, from about 940,000 in 2010 to nearly 2.7 million in 2030. Muslims are expected to make up 6.6 per cent of Canada’s total population in 2030, up from 2.8 per cent today. Argentina is expected to have the third-largest Muslim population in the Americas, after the US and Canada. Argentina, with about 1 million Muslims in 2010, is now in second place, behind the US

In Europe:

· The Muslim share of Europe’s population is expected to grow by nearly a third, rising from 44.1 million (six per cent of Europe’s total population) in 2010 to 58.2 million (eight per cent) in 2030.

· The greatest increases – driven primarily by continued migration – are likely to occur in Western and Northern Europe, where Muslims will be approaching double-digit percentages of the population in several countries. In the United Kingdom, for example, Muslims are expected to comprise 8.2 per cent of the population in 2030, up from an estimated 4.6 per cent today. In Norway, Muslims are projected to reach 6.5 per cent of the population in 2030, (up from three per cent today); in Germany, 7.1 per cent (up from 5.0 per cent today); in Austria, 9.3 per cent (up from 5.7 per cent today); in Belgium, 10.2 per cent (up from 6.0 per cent today); and in France, 10.3 per cent (up from 7.5 per cent today).

· In 2030, Muslims are projected to make up more than 10 per cent of the total population in 10 European countries: Kosovo (93.5 per cent), Albania (83.2 per cent), Bosnia-Herzegovina (42.7 per cent), Republic of Macedonia (40.3 per cent), Montenegro (21.5 per cent), Bulgaria (15.7 per cent), Russia (14.4 per cent), Georgia (11.5 per cent), France (10.3 per cent) and Belgium (10.2 per cent).

· Russia will continue to have the largest Muslim population (in absolute numbers) in Europe in 2030. Its Muslim population is expected to rise from 16.4 million in 2010 to 18.6 million in 2030. The growth rate for the Muslim population in Russia is projected to be 0.6 per cent annually over the next two decades. By contrast, Russia’s non-Muslim population is expected to shrink by an average of 0.6 per cent annually over the same period.

· France had an expected net influx of 66,000 Muslim immigrants in 2010, primarily from North Africa. Muslims comprised an estimated two-thirds (68.5 per cent) of all new immigrants to France in the past year. Spain was expected to see a net gain of 70,000 Muslim immigrants in 2010, but they account for a much smaller portion of all new immigrants to Spain (13.1 per cent). The UK’s net inflow of Muslim immigrants in the past year (nearly 64,000) was forecast to be nearly as large as France’s. More than a quarter (28.1 per cent) of all new immigrants to the UK in 2010 are estimated to be Muslim.

In Asia-Pacific:

· Nearly three-in-ten people living in the Asia-Pacific region in 2030 (27.3 per cent) will be Muslim, up from about a quarter in 2010 (24.8 per cent) and roughly a fifth in 1990 (21.6 per cent).

· Muslims make up only about two per cent of the population in China, but because the country is so populous, its Muslim population is expected to be the 19th largest in the world in 2030.

In the Middle East and North Africa:

· The Middle East-North Africa will continue to have the highest percentage of Muslim-majority countries. Of the 20 countries and territories in this region, all but Israel are projected to be at least 50 per cent Muslim in 2030, and 17 are expected to have a population that is more than 75 per cent Muslim in 2030, with Israel, Lebanon and Sudan (as currently demarcated) being the only exceptions.

· Nearly a quarter (23.2 per cent) of Israel’s population is expected to be Muslim in 2030, up from 17.7 per cent in 2010 and 14.1 per cent in 1990. During the past 20 years, the Muslim population in Israel has more than doubled, growing from 0.6 million in 1990 to 1.3 million in 2010. The Muslim population in Israel (including Jerusalem but not the West Bank and Gaza) is expected to reach 2.1 million by 2030.

· Egypt, Algeria and Morocco currently have the largest Muslim populations (in absolute numbers) in the Middle East-North Africa. By 2030, however, Iraq is expected to have the second-largest Muslim population in the region – exceeded only by Egypt – largely because Iraq has a higher fertility rate than Algeria or Morocco.

In Sub-Saharan Africa:

· The Muslim population in sub-Saharan Africa is projected to grow by nearly 60 per cent in the next 20 years, from 242.5 million in 2010 to 385.9 million in 2030. Because the region’s non-Muslim population also is growing at a rapid pace, Muslims are expected to make up only a slightly larger share of the region’s population in 2030 (31.0 per cent) than they do in 2010 (29.6 per cent).

· Various surveys give differing figures for the size of religious groups in Nigeria, which appears to have roughly equal numbers of Muslims and Christians in 2010. By 2030, Nigeria is expected to have a slight Muslim majority (51.5 per cent).

The 209-page report contains detailed analysis and description of the factors that drive this growth. The main factors, or inputs, in the population projections are: births (fertility rates), deaths (mortality rates), migration (emigration and immigration), and the age structure of the population (the number of people in various age groups). Related factors – which are not direct inputs into the projections but which underlie vital assumptions about the way Muslim fertility rates are changing and Muslim populations are shifting – include: education (particularly of women), economic well-being (standards of living), contraception and family planning, urbanization (movement from rural areas into cities and towns), and religious conversion.

The current population data that underpin this report were culled from the best sources available on Muslims in each of the 232 countries and territories for which the UN Population Division provides general population estimates. Many of these baseline statistics were published in the Pew Forum’s 2009 report, Mapping the Global Muslim Population, which acquired and analysed about 1,500 sources of data – including census reports, large-scale demographic studies and general population surveys – to estimate the number of Muslims in every country and territory. All of those estimates have been updated for 2010, and some have been substantially revised.

The full report, which includes an executive summary, interactive maps and sortable data tables, is available on the Pew Forum’s website here:

The Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life conducts surveys, demographic analyses and other social science research on important aspects of religion and public life in the US and around the world.

As part of the Washington-based Pew Research Center, a non-partisan, non-advocacy organisation, the Pew Forum does not take positions on any of the issues it covers or on policy debates.


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