WASHINGTON — The world’s Muslim population will grow twice as fast as the non-Muslim population in the next 20 years, when Muslims are expected to make up more than a quarter of the global population, a study published Thursday predicts.
Using fertility, mortality and migration rates, researchers at the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life project a 1.5% annual population growth rate for the world’s Muslims over the next two decades, and just 0.7% growth each year for non-Muslims.
The study, called “The Future of the Global Muslim Population,” projects that in 2030 Muslims will make up 26.4% of the world’s population, which is expected to total around 8.3-billion people by then.
That marks a three-percentage-point rise from the 23.4% share held by Muslims of the globe’s estimated 6.9 billion people today, the study says.
More than six-in-10 followers of Islam will live in the Asia-Pacific region in 2030, and nuclear Pakistan, which has seen a rise in radical Islam in recent months, will overtake Indonesia as the world’s most populous Muslim nation.
In Africa, the Muslim population of the sub-Saharan country of Nigeria will be greater than that of Egypt in 20 years, the study projects.
And in Europe, Pew predicts the Muslim population will grow by nearly a third in 20 years, from 44.1 million people, or 6% of the region’s inhabitants in 2010, to 58.2 million or eight% of the projected total population by 2030.
Some European Union countries will see double-digit percentages of Muslims in their population by 2030: Belgium’s Muslim population is projected to rise from 6% to 10.2% over the next 20 years, while France’s is expected to hit 10.3% in 2030, up from 7.5% today.
In Sweden, Pew predicts Muslims will comprise nearly 10% of the population compared to less than 5% today.
Britain’s Muslim population is predicted to rise from 4.6% to 8.2% by 2030, and 9.3% of the population of Austria is forecast to be Muslim by then, compared to less than six% of residents of the alpine country now.
Russia, which is not a member of the EU, will continue to have the largest Muslim population in absolute terms in Europe in 2030, with 18.6 million Muslims or 14.4% of the total population of the vast country.
The United States, meanwhile, is projected to have a larger absolute number of Muslims by 2030 than any European countries other than Russia and France, but proportionally, Muslims will make up a much smaller percentage of the population of the United States than they do in Europe.