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Islam to be largest religion globally after 2075, says study

By 2035, more babies will be born to Muslim mothers than to Christians who form the largest religious group at present.

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KUALA LUMPUR: Christians form the largest religious group in the world today, but by 2075, Islam is expected to be the largest religion in the world.

A new Pew Research Center demographic analysis says Christians, at 2.3 billion, made up nearly a third of the world’s 7.3 billion people in 2015.

Globally, the report says, Muslims make up the second largest religious group, with 1.8 billion people, or 24% of the world’s population, followed by religious “nones” (16%), Hindus (15%) and Buddhists (7%).

Adherents of folk religions, Jews and members of other religions make up the rest.

The Pew report says Christians had the most births and deaths of any religious group in recent years.

Between 2010 and 2015, an estimated 223 million babies were born to Christian mothers, while about 107 million Christians died – a natural increase of 116 million.

But among Christians in Europe the reverse is true: Deaths outnumbered births by nearly 6 million during this brief period. In contrast, there were over 2 million more Muslim births than deaths in Europe.

Muslims, the report says, experienced the greatest natural increase among all religious groups. Births to Muslims between 2010 and 2015 outnumbered deaths by 152 million (213 million births vs. 61 million deaths).

Globally, all major groups had more births than deaths.

Between 2030 and 2035, slightly more babies (225 million) will be born to Muslims than to Christians (224 million). Between 2055 and 2060, the gap is expected to widen to 6 million – 232 million births to Muslims, and 226 million to Christians.

By 2070, the world’s Muslim population will match its Christian population, and surpass it in the decades that follow.

Globally, the report says, Muslims have the highest fertility rate of any religious group – an average of 2.9 children per woman, well above the replacement level (2.1), the minimum typically needed to maintain a stable population.

Christians have the second highest fertility rate, at 2.6 children per woman. Hindu and Jewish fertility (2.3 each) are both just below the global average of 2.4 children per woman.

All other major religious groups have fertility levels too low to sustain their populations, says the Pew report.

Muslims have the youngest median age (24) of all religious groups. As their prime childbearing years are still ahead of them, they are expected to contribute to the rapid growth of their community.

Hindus (27) are also younger than the median age of the world’s overall population (30), while the median age of Christians (30) matches the global median.

Saying all other groups are older than the global median, the Pew report expects their population growth to decline.

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