If current population trends continue, there will be more Muslims than Christians around the globe by the year 2070, a recent report from the Pew Research Center says.
In 2010, Christianity was by far the dominant religion as worshippers numbered around 2.2 billion, a third (31 per cent) of Earth’s population. Islam was a distant second, with 1.6 billion followers (23 per cent).
But the fertility rate and age of Muslims are both trending at a pace which would see Islam close the gap by 2050, the report says.
The followers of Islam have the world’s highest fertility rate (3.1 children per woman) which is well above Christians (2.7). The global average actually sits at 2.1 children per woman.
According to the study, another major factor would be the youthfulness of Muslims.
In 2010, 27 per cent of the world’s population was under 15 years old.
But while Christians matched the average, 34 per cent of the Muslim population was under 15.
The study also assumes there will be a massive net change in the number of Christians who either convert to another religion or choose to no longer affiliate with any religion.
Several anglophone-based countries will also no longer have a Christian majority by 2050 including Australia, the United Kingdom and New Zealand, the report says.
Between 2010 and 2050, 106.1 million people are expected to leave the Christian faith, according to the Pew Research Center.
Aside from Buddhists, all religious groups are expected to see some form of population increase.
Those who don’t practise religion are a different story.
The report indicates people who do not affiliate with any religion are set to see a declining percentage of the global population despite an increase in their overall numbers.
The report took into account age, fertility, mortality, migration and religious switching in developing the numbers.
The study warns its forecasts are based upon current population trends and that events such as scientific discoveries, armed conflicts and changing economic conditions could change the numbers.
With a large portion of China’s population of 1.3 billion people (as of 2010) currently religiously unaffiliated, the forecast could change if large numbers were to convert to Christianity.