Kashmiri Muslims pray on a street on the third Friday of Ra.
(photo credit: AP)
WASHINGTON – The world’s Muslim population is growing at twice the rate of other groups, with Muslims set to make up 26.4 percent of the global population of 8.3 billion people in 2030.
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As a proportion of the population, Israel’s Muslim population is projected to grow faster than in any other country in the world. While Muslims now make up 17.7% of the population, in two decades they will total 23%, or 1.3 million people.
The estimates are part of an exhaustive demographic study released on Thursday and compiled from government and private sources by the Pew-Templeton Global Religious Futures project. The researchers used census data where available, but not it was not always possible to get official numbers.
They relied on self-reporting of religious identification in drawing their conclusions.
In the United States, according to the study, Muslims are estimated to pull even with the percentage of Jews, Episcopalians and Mormons in the population over the next 20 years, though the number in some of these latter groups could well decline during that time as well.
“I see rough parity in 2030, something like 2% of the population is what these groups might be,” said Alan Cooperman, associate director for research at the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, noting that he had not projected the growth rate of the other religious groups during this study.
Pakistan and Bangladesh are currently the top countries of origin of Muslims immigrants coming to the US.
In Europe, over two decades, Muslims are expect to grow from 6% to 8% of the population, comprising around 58 million people. France’s Muslim population will grow from 7.5% of the public to 10%, in the UK from 4.6% to 8% and in Germany from 5% to 7%.
Beyond Muslims’ traditionally higher birthrates than non- Muslims in the West, a major factor driving the population boom is immigration, according to the researchers.
In absolute numbers, by 2030 the US will have a larger Muslim population (about 6.2 million) than that of any European country other than France or Russia.
Twenty percent of Muslims worldwide live in the Middle East, where they are most densely concentrated, with Israel seen as the only non- Muslim majority country in 2030.
Overall, though the world’s Muslim population is expected to grow by 35% by 2030, the rate of growth will slow as fertility rates fall as Muslim continue to get more education, the standard of living rises, and other global trends set in, the report’s authors assessed.
Brian Grim, senior researcher at the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, noted that even with these growth rates, in places like Europe, Muslims will remain a definite minority.
“This rise is very modest. It’s a relatively small share... of the overall population in Europe,” he said. “These will be populations that will be substantial but in our projections we’re not anticipating a majority.”