Sub-Saharan Africa will be home to growing shares of the world’s Christians and Muslims

Source: Pew Research Center

If demography is destiny, then Christianity’s future lies in Africa. By 2060, a plurality of Christians – more than four-in-ten – will call sub-Saharan Africa home, up from 26% in 2015, according to a new analysis of demographic data by Pew Research Center. At the same time, the share of Christians living in many other regions – notably Europe – is projected to decline.

This shift in the regional concentration of the global Christian population is being driven by a combination of demographic factors, including fertility, age and migration, as well as religious switching into and out of Christianity. In sub-Saharan Africa, Christians, on average, are relatively young and have more children than their coreligionists elsewhere, contributing to the projected rapid population growth in the decades ahead.

By contrast, European Christians are much older and have fewer children. In addition, large numbers of Europeans who were born Christian are leaving the faith to join the ranks of the religiously unaffiliated. As a result, the share of all Christians living in Europe is expected to decline from nearly a quarter in 2015 to just 14% by 2060. Religious switching out of Christianity also is projected to drive down the share of the global Christian population in North America (12% in 2015 to 9% in 2060). 

Sub-Saharan Africa also is home to a growing share of the world’s Muslims. Between 2015 and 2060, the share of all Muslims living in the region is projected to increase from 16% to 27%. Although the majority of Muslims will continue to live in the Asia-Pacific region (50% of the global Muslim population in 2060), sub-Saharan Africa will surpass the Middle East-North Africa as the region with the second-largest Muslim population in the next 20 years.

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