Thursday, December 27, 2012

Pew Global Religious Landscape: Young Muslims and the Unaffiliated

by Salman Hameed

There is a new Pew Survey out on The Global Religious Landscape. Since, a picture is worth a thousand words, here is a map showing majority religions in every country in the world :

There are roughly 2.2 billion Christians, 1.6 billion Muslims (see this earlier post on Muslim numbers), and 1 billion Hindus. Interestingly, and perhaps with an impact on the future, the Muslim population is  younger than every other group. The median age for Muslims is 23 compared to global median of 28! Here is the distribution of median ages with religion (same coding as in the map above):

Perhaps, one of the interesting results is that fact those who consider not affiliated with any religion represents the third largest group. At 1.1 billion, this unaffiliated group is behind only Christians and Muslims.

By the way, being unaffiliated does not necessarily mean atheism. Many in this group still hold some religious belief or believe in some sort of spirituality. China has the largest number of religiously unaffiliated. Here is the global distribution of the unaffiliated: 

Of course, US has also been seeing an notable rise of religiously unaffiliated (or "nones" - non of the religions). Pew had another recent report on this particular population in the US, and this what they found:

And it is not that these "nones" in the US are confused and seeking some true path. Only 10% are looking for a religion while 88% are not looking. Now, of course, the "nones" in China may be very different from the "nones" in the US. The "nones" in the US may also represent a generational shift, as they have their highest representation amongst the young:

Read more about the Pew report on "nones" in the US here, and about the Pew report on the Global Religious Landscape here.


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