The Hindu population worldwide will rise by 34%, from a little over 1 billion to nearly 1.4 billion by 2050, the Pew Research Center’s study on “The Future of World Religions” projected.
Hindus will make up 14.9% of the world’s total population, behind Christians (31.4%) and Muslims (29.7%), while people unaffiliated to any religious group will account for 13.2%, the study said.
“By 2050, the study projects India to be the country with the largest number of Muslims – more than 310 million – even though Hindus will continue to make up a solid majority of India’s population (77%), while Muslims remain a minority (18%),” Pew Research Center said.
“Indonesia will have the third-largest number of Muslims, with Pakistan ranking second,” it said.
Muslims are projected to grow faster than the world’s overall population growth while Hindus and Christians are projected to roughly keep pace with growth trends, the study said.
“Over the next four decades, Christians will remain the largest religious group, but Islam will grow faster than any other major religion,” it said.
The report predicted that by 2050 there will be near parity between Muslims (2.8 billion, or 30% of the population) and Christians (2.9 billion, or 31%), possibly for the first time in history.
There were 1.6 billion Muslims in 2010, compared to 2.17 billion Christians.
If current trends continue, Islam will become the world’s most popular faith after 2070, it said.
“The farther into the future we look, the more uncertainty exists, which is why the projections stop at 2050.
“But if they are extended into the second half of this century, the projections forecast Muslims and Christians to be roughly equal in number around 2070, with Muslims the slightly larger group after that year,” the organisation said.
By 2050, Muslims will make up about 10% of Europe’s population, up from 5.9% in 2010.
Over the same period, the number of Hindus in Europe is expected to roughly double, from a little under 1.4 million (0.2% of Europe’s population) to nearly 2.7 million (0.4%), mainly as a result of immigration, it said.
In North America, Hindus are expected to nearly double in decades ahead, from 0.7% in 2010 to 1.3% in 2050, when migration is included in projection models. Without migration, the Hindu share of the region’s population will remain the same.
“In the US, Christians will decline from more than three-quarters of the population in 2010 to two-thirds in 2050, with corresponding rises of religious ‘nones’ as well as Muslims, Hindus and others.
“At mid-century, Judaism will no longer be the largest non-Christian religion in the US: Muslims are projected to be more numerous than people who identify as Jewish on the basis of religion,” the organisation said.
Buddhism is the only faith that is not expected to increase its followers, due to an ageing population and stable fertility rates in Buddhist countries such as China, Japan and Thailand.
The projections considered fertility rates, trends in youth population growth and religious conversion statistics. By Rezaul H Laskar, Hindustan Times.