A Shiite woman calms her crying child as she waits with other Shiite Muslims from South Asia to greet their spiritual leader in Cairo on June 12, 2010. Photo courtesy of Reuters/Asmaa Waguih

Muslim births projected to outnumber Christian births globally by 2035

(RNS) Within 20 years, the number of Muslim babies being born is expected to surpass Christian births — though there will still be more Christians in the world.

Muslims currently account for about 24 percent of the world population, compared with 31 percent for Christians, according to the Pew Research Center.

But a new Pew study found that due to higher fertility rates and a relatively young population, the share of Muslim babies being born is growing.

“Babies born to Muslims will begin to outnumber Chistian births by 2035.” Graphic courtesy of Pew Research Center

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So while 31 percent of all births between 2010 and 2015 were in Muslim families as compared with 33 percent in Christian ones, the proportions are expected to be nearly equal at around 225 million in the early 2030s.

The study projects that two decades later, between 2055 and 2060, around 36 percent of babies will be born to Muslim mothers and 35 percent to Christian women. That will amount to a gap of 6 million babies.

While Christianity is growing in sub-Saharan Africa and other parts of the world, Christians are generally older and are dying at a faster rate than Muslims — particularly in Europe, the study's authors conclude.

"In Germany alone, for example, there were an estimated 1.4 million more Christian deaths than births between 2010 and 2015, a pattern that is expected to continue across much of Europe in the decades ahead," the report notes.

People who identify with no religion, who now make up 16 percent of the world population, had 10 percent of the world's babies during that period.

But in four decades, 9 percent of babies will be born to the religiously unaffiliated.

The report relied on a database of more than 2,500 censuses, surveys and population registers from around the world.


  1. And thus will the dififculties of too many people in most muslim countries continue, just as in the majority of the poorest countries in Christendom.

  2. Birth rates are coming down all over the world. See http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.DYN.TFRT.IN

    Some Muslim countries have quite low birth rates, including Iran (1.7 children per woman) and United Arab Emirates (1.8). Indonesia, the world’s largest majority Muslim country, has 2.5 children per woman. That’s lower than the Philippines (3.0 children per woman).

    While the Pew figures may be right, changing demographics between 2017 and 2035 may change the situation.

  3. I read the report – while I am not good with numbers, I think there are a couple of misleading conclusions. Europe is not going to be Muslim in that time frame. The Pew in a July article noted that Europe’s Muslim population while still younger, will be just 8% of the total population in 20 years and 14% by 2060.

    I believe the same holds true for SubSahara Africa as of 2060 where 42% of the world’s Christians are expected to reside – higher than than global average and 27% of the world’s Muslims – lower than the global average.

    Also as you noted re birth rates by country, there will be no change in North America as to Muslim population although there is a slight decline in Christians but the greatest change will be an increase in the unaffiliated.

  4. In the overall scheme of things, the numbers themselves may mean little. In either of the religions cited there are more than a few who are merely nominal in their approach to faith, though the article does not state whether the Pew Research Center controlled for that factor. For number crunching purposes, nominal does not equate to “none,” but it might as well. In any case, the number will be what it will be. In some respects such information is essentially useless. One wonders if someone is trying to gin up a competition.

  5. Actually, there are some interesting things to be possibly. Quite clearly, subSaharan Africa will be a dominant voice for Christianity in the future.

    Strategically I learned that demographics, education and economics have powerful geopolitical implications for the future. So, a future world may be paying the price for Trump’s move to deregulation – for instances, allowing “blood diamonds” (conflict diamonds) back into the marketplace.

  6. I agree with your assessment with regard to sub-Saharan Africa, but on the whole, the future is hard to predict and we are often surprised by what we didn’t see coming.

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