The Pew Research Center released a new study: “The Future of World Religions: Population Growth Projections, 2010-2050.”Here are some highlights.
- There are 6.9 billion people in the world
- Religious ‘nones’ are in decline worldwide but will increase in the United States, from 16% to 26% by 2050
- Christianity remains the largest religion in the world (2.2 billion), while at the same time declining significantly in the United States and other developed countries.
- Christianity growth shows rapid growth in sub-Sarahan Africa with nearly half of worldwide Christians (4 in 10) hailing from there.
- Muslims will outnumber Jews in the United States
- Islam shows the most rapid growth worldwide and will be “nearly” equal to Christianity
- Europe’s population is in steep decline, the only region in the world to be so. And while Christianity is still the dominant religion, it will fall by 100 million adherents by 2050.
Growth in Developing Countries
Religion shows significant growth, by far, in developing countries, contrasted with the declining growth of religion in the parts of the world with ageing populations and low fertility rates.
As the example of the unaffiliated shows, there will be vivid geographic differences in patterns of religious growth in the coming decades. One of the main determinants of that future growth is where each group is geographically concentrated today.
Religions with many adherents in developing countries – where birth rates are high, and infant mortality rates generally have been falling – are likely to grow quickly. Much of the worldwide growth of Islam and Christianity, for example, is expected to take place in sub-Saharan Africa. Today’s religiously unaffiliated population, by contrast, is heavily concentrated in places with low fertility and aging populations, such as Europe, North America, China and Japan.
Social theorists suggest rapid growth in developing countries signals a trend related to economics: economic growth equals a move away from religion. The Pew article counters this claim by saying this trend may be due to religious switching along with a rise in female education attainment, which will translate to lower fertility rates in the coming decades.
Religious growth worldwide marks an ever-changing population grid due to the fluctuation in fertility rates and economic growth and the rise of education. But does this kind of research inform modern thought and the continued move away from the supernatural and religion by governments, big-tech, and the post-modern aristocracy?
A helpful interdisciplinary study might take into account the anthropological studies put forth here, with reflection on the spiritual and philosophical state of cultural influencers.