According to a new Pew study, that the world’s Christian population currently lies at 31% of the global 7.3 billion population, or 2.3 billion people – making it the world’s biggest religion, with Islam and Hinduism standing as the second and third biggest religion respectively. This is based on a new Pew Research Center analysis of the demographics around religion.
However, in continental Europe, Christianity is declining. Christians had both the most deaths and the most births of any extant religion.
“Between 2010 and 2015, an estimated 223 million babies were born to Christian mothers and roughly 107 million Christians died – a natural increase of 116 million.”
Those are global numbers. For Europe, deaths outnumbers births by about 6 million in one brief period. In Germany alone, there were an estimated 1.4 million more Christian deaths than births from 2010 to 2015.
Europe’s ageing and dying Christian population was unique compared to the rest of the world. The Muslim and unaffiliated population increased in Europe. There are 1.8 billion Muslims in the world of various denominations at 24% of the world population.
This is “followed by religious “nones” (16%), Hindus (15%) and Buddhists (7%). Adherents of folk religions, Jews and members of other religions make up smaller shares of the world’s people.”
Of the greatest organic increase in the numbers of adherents, Islam was the fastest growing. All religious/unaffiliated groups had more births than deaths.
Some countries, such as the United States, have a culture in which children growing up in one religion are more ably leave that religion. However, this trend is dwarfed by the differences associated with “fertility and mortality.”
Fertility differences between religious groups are one of the key factors behind current population trends and will be important for future growth. Globally, Muslims have the highest fertility rate of any religious group – an average of 2.9 children per woman, well above replacement level (2.1), the minimum typically needed to maintain a stable population.
The differences in the median ages of the religious demographics are important too. The differences can be seen in an older Christian global population. The median age for Christians is 30. For Muslims, it is 24. It is the youngest grouping.
Fertile years are more abundant – so to speak – for the world’s Muslim population than for the world’s Christian population or Hindu population – median age of 27.