Washington: Hindus will become the world's third largest population by 2050, while India will overtake Indonesia as the country with the largest Muslim population, according to a new study.
According to the Pew Research Center's religious profile predictions assessed data released on Thursday, the Hindu population is projected to rise by 34 per cent worldwide, from a little over 1 billion to nearly 1.4 billion by 2050.
By 2050, Hindus will be third, making up 14.9 per cent of the world's total population, followed by people who do not affiliate with any religion, accounting for 13.2 per cent, the report said. The people with no religious affiliation currently have the third largest share of the world's total population. Muslims are projected to grow faster than the world's overall population and that Hindus and Christians are projected to roughly keep pace with worldwide population growth, the report said.
"India will retain a Hindu majority but also will have the largest Muslim population of any country in the world, surpassing Indonesia," it said.
"Over the next four decades, Christians will remain the largest religious group, but Islam will grow faster than any other major religion," according to the report.
The report predicted that by 2050 there will be near parity between Muslims (2.8 billion, or 30 per cent of the population) and Christians (2.9 billion, or 31 per cent), possibly for the first time in history. There were 1.6 billion Muslims in 2010, compared to 2.17 billion Christians.
"The number of Muslims will nearly equal the number of Christians around the world," it added. If the trend continues, Islam will be the most popular faith in the world after 2070, it said.
By 2050, Muslims will make up about 10 per cent of the Europe's population, up from 5.9 per cent in 2010. Over the same period, the number of Hindus in Europe is expected to roughly double, from a little under 1.4 million (0.2 per cent of Europe's population) to nearly 2.7 million (0.4 per cent), mainly as a result of immigration, it said.
In North America, the Hindu share of the population is expected to nearly double in the decades ahead, from 0.7 per cent in 2010 to 1.3 per cent in 2050, when migration is included in the projection models. Without migration, the Hindu share of the region's population would remain the same.
Buddhism is the only faith that is not expected to increase its followers, due to an ageing population and stable fertility rates in Buddhist countries, such as China, Japan and Thailand.
The projections considered fertility rates, trends in youth population growth and religious conversion statistics.