(June 2011) In January 2011, the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life released the report The Future of the Global Muslim Population on demographic trends among Muslim populations around the world. The report highlighted patterns in population data collected since the 1990s and presented population growth projections for the next 20 years.
Overall, the number of Muslims has been growing, as well as their share of the total world population. In 2010, 74 percent of Muslims lived in 49 countries, where they made up the majority of the population. By 2030, the world's total Muslim population is expected to increase by 35 percent over its 2010 level, to 2.2 billion people. In total, Muslims will make up about 26 percent of the world's population, an increase of about 3 percent from today's level.
Several factors contribute to the fast growth in the Muslim population. First, despite decreasing total fertility rates in recent years, women in Muslim-majority countries still clearly have more children per woman than in non-Muslim countries. Although the TFR in Muslim countries is projected to drop to 2.3 between 2030 and 2035, it is still higher than what is observed or projected for non-Muslim countries as a group. Second, higher fertility rates of the past created a bulge in the younger age groups. As a result, large young Muslim populations are entering their childbearing years and will support additional future population growth, even as the TFR declines. In addition, the use of birth control is lower in Muslim-majority countries than in many others: On average, fewer than 48 percent of Muslim married women use some form of birth control, compared with an average of 63 percent of married women in non-Muslim-majority countries. Third, improved living standards, economic growth, and higher levels of education contribute to declining child mortality rates and rising life expectancy in Muslim countries. On the other hand, there is an especially strong relationship between educational attainment for women and fertility rates: Women with higher education are more likely to delay childbirth and have fewer children.
Current and Projected Muslim Population by Region
||Estimated Muslim Population
||Estimated Global Share of Total Muslim Population
||Projected Muslim Population
||Projected Global Share of Total Muslim Population
|Middle East and North Africa
Source: Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life, The Future of the Global Muslim Population (Washington, DC: Pew Research Center, 2011).
In 2010, the three countries with the largest Muslim populations were Indonesia, Pakistan, and India. By 2030, Pakistan is projected to overtake Indonesia as the country with the largest Muslim population. In the United States, the report projects that the number of Muslims will increase from 2.6 million in 2010 to 6.2 million in 2030. Overall, they will still make up a relatively small share of the U.S. population, increasing from 0.8 percent to 1.7 percent. The Americas, as a region, will continue to have the smallest share of the global Muslim population (see table). On the other hand, the Americas will be the only region that will experience an increase in the Muslim population growth rates through 2020, largely due to immigration. In the United States today, about 36 percent of Muslims are born in the United States, while 64 percent are first-generation immigrants. By 2030, about 45 percent of the U.S. Muslim population is expected to be born in the United States. In Canada, the number of Muslims is projected to triple from about 940,000 in 2010 to 2.7 million in 2030.
Kata Fustos is an intern in the Communications Department at the Population Reference Bureau.