January 27, 2011

The Future of the Global Muslim Population

Region: Americas

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The number of Muslims in the 51 countries in the Americas is projected to more than double in the next 20 years, from 5.3 million in 2010 to 10.9 million in 2030. Nevertheless, Muslims will remain a small minority in the region, accounting for an estimated 1.0% of the population in 2030, compared with 0.6% in 2010. Muslims in the Americas also will continue to represent a small share of the global Muslim population. The percentage of the world’s Muslims living in the Americas is expected to remain roughly the same (0.5% in 2030, compared with 0.3% in 2010).

Most of the projected growth in the region’s Muslim population will take place in North America, particularly in the U.S. and Canada. If current trends continue, the Muslim population in the United States is projected to more than double in the next 20 years, from 2.6 million in 2010 to 6.2 million in 2030.40 Canada’s Muslim population is expected to nearly triple, climbing from 940,000 in 2010 to 2.7 million in 2030.

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The Americas is the only region where the percentage increase in the number of Muslims will be greater from 2010 to 2030 than it was from 1990 to 2010.41 From 1990 to 2010, the number of Muslims in the region increased by 2.3 million. In the next two decades, the number of Muslims in the Americas is projected to increase by 5.6 million. Much of the projected increase will come from the large number of Muslim immigrants expected to come to the U.S. and Canada from South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa (see section on migration in the Americas).

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The rate of growth of the Muslim population in the Americas will continue to be substantially higher than the rate of growth of the non-Muslim population. But the growth of the Muslim population is expected to slow by 2030, as Muslim fertility rates gradually drop and as new immigrants make up a declining percentage of Muslims in the region.

Sub-Regions and Countries in the Americas

Sub-Regions in the Americas

Central and South America, including the Caribbean, are projected to have modest increases in the size of their Muslim populations in the next 20 years.42 Most of the projected growth in the Muslim population in the region will take place in North America, where the number of Muslims is projected to increase from about 3.5 million in 2010 to roughly 8.9 million in 2030. Muslims are expected to make up 2.2% of North America’s population in 2030, up from 1.0% in 2010.

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Countries in the Americas

The Muslim population in the United States is projected to more than double in the next 20 years, from nearly 2.6 million in 2010 to about 6.2 million in 2030, in large part because of immigration and higher-than-average fertility among Muslims.

Within two decades, the United States is expected to have the 43rd largest Muslim population in the world (in absolute numbers), up from 55th place in 2010. By 2030, the U.S. is projected to have a larger number of Muslims than any European country other than Russia (which is expected to have 19 million Muslims by 2030) and France (which is expected to have 6.9 million Muslims in 2030). By comparison, the United Kingdom and Germany are each projected to have nearly 5.6 million Muslims in 2030.

By 2030, Muslims are expected to account for 1.7% of the total U.S. population, up from 0.8% in 2010. If current trends continue, Muslims may constitute as large a share of the U.S. population as either Jews or Episcopalians do today.43 The Pew Forum’s U.S. Religious Landscape Survey, conducted in 2007, found that Jews represented 1.7% of the adult population in the U.S., while Episcopalians (including Anglicans) accounted for 1.4%.44

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The number of Muslims in Canada is expected to nearly triple in the next 20 years, from about 940,000 in 2010 to nearly 2.7 million in 2030. Muslims account for a larger share of the general population in Canada than they do in the United States. By 2030, 6.6% of Canada’s population is projected to be Muslim, up from 2.8% in 2010.

Within two decades, Canada is expected to have the second-largest number of Muslims in the Americas, overtaking Argentina, which is now in second place. The number of Muslims in Argentina is expected to rise from 1 million in 2010 to about 1.2 million in 2030. During the same period, Brazil’s Muslim population is projected to climb from about 204,000 to about 227,000, and Mexico’s Muslim population is expected to increase from about 111,000 to about 126,000.

Of all the countries in the Americas, Canada and the U.S. are expected to have by far the largest percentage increases in the size of their Muslim populations, 183.1% and 139.5%, respectively.

The countries in the region with the highest concentration of Muslims as a share of the total population in 2010 are Suriname (15.9%), Guyana (7.2%), and Trinidad and Tobago (5.8%). The Muslim population shares in these countries are not expected to change very much in the next 20 years. The countries expected to have the largest projected increase in the portion of the population that is Muslim are the U.S., Canada and Argentina.

Fertility

There are not enough data available to arrive at an overall fertility rate for Muslims in the Americas; differential fertility data for Muslims and non-Muslims are not available for most countries in the region. The two exceptions are the United States and Canada.

There is no direct measure of the total fertility rate for Muslims living in the U.S. However, Pew Forum staff were able to estimate a fertility rate using information on the two main subgroups of U.S. Muslims: foreign-born immigrants and Muslims born in the U.S. For the 64.5% of U.S. Muslims who were born in another country, Pew Forum staff used data from the New Immigrant Survey to estimate the proportion of Muslim immigrants from each of the major countries from which Muslim immigrants came.45 Using data from the American Community Survey, Pew Forum staff then estimated the fertility rate for women in the U.S. who were born in each of those countries.46 These rates were averaged together, giving greatest weight to the fertility rates for women in the U.S. who are from the countries with the largest proportion of Muslim immigrants. For instance, the overall average is impacted more by the Total Fertility Rate of 2.5 children for U.S. women born in Pakistan than by the rate of 1.8 children for U.S. women born in Iran; this is because there are more new Muslim immigrants from Pakistan than from Iran in the U.S. When averaged together, the estimated Total Fertility Rate for Muslim immigrants is 2.6 children per woman.

Of the 35.5% of U.S. Muslims who were born in the U.S., slightly more than half are African- Americans; most of the rest are second- or third-generation immigrants. Since comparative fertility data for Muslim and non-Muslim African-Americans are not available, Pew Forum staff used as a proxy the 2.2 children per woman Total Fertility Rate for blacks reported by the Division of Vital Statistics of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2006, the latest data available when the U.S. projection was made.47 Also, since Total Fertility Rates are not available for second- or third- generation immigrants, and since the fertility rates of subsequent generations generally tend to converge with the national average, this group was assumed to also have a Total Fertility Rate slightly above the national average of 2.1.

Finally, Pew Forum staff estimated the Total Fertility Rate for all U.S. Muslims by giving a weight of 64.5% to the Total Fertility Rate of 2.6 for Muslim immigrants and a weight of 35.5% to the fertility rate of 2.2 for Muslims born in the U.S., yielding an estimate of about 2.5 children per woman for all U.S. Muslims.

The fertility rate for Muslims in Canada is higher than the rate for other Canadians (an average of 2.4 children per woman for Muslims, compared with 1.6 children per woman for other populations in Canada).48

The best available data suggest that fertility rates among Muslim women in the Central and South American countries with the largest proportion of Muslims – Argentina, Guyana, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago – resemble those for the general population of those countries. This is because previous generations of Muslim immigrants tended to adopt their new country’s fertility patterns, and these countries have had far fewer Muslim immigrants in recent decades than the U.S. or Canada.

Sex Ratios

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The ratio of men to women also will have an impact on Muslim fertility rates in the Americas. As previously mentioned, when a population has more men than women, the number of births tends to be lower than if the population is more balanced.

The 2007 Pew Research Center survey of Muslims in the United States found that 54% of all adult Muslims in the U.S. are male, while 46% are female.49 This finding is consistent with U.S. Census data on immigrants from Muslim-majority nations. Males constitute a majority of the immigrants from several Muslim-majority nations that are the source of substantial numbers of people coming to the U.S., such as Pakistan, Bangladesh and Somalia. When children are taken into account, however, an estimated 51.4% of U.S. Muslims are male in 2010, which means that the number of Muslim men and women in the U.S. is expected to be fairly balanced in the coming years. This is another reason why the U.S. Muslim population is projected to continue to grow.

The male-to-female ratio of young Canadian Muslims (ages 0-24) is about the same as the ratio for the country as a whole. However, among those age 25 and older, the ratio of Muslim men to Muslim women is higher than that for the general population. This most likely indicates that more Muslim men than Muslim women have immigrated to Canada.

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Life Expectancy at Birth

Life expectancy data by religious affiliation is not available for countries in the Americas. The projections in this report assume that Muslims have the same life expectancy as the general population.

Migration

If economic opportunities in Central and South America remain limited, immigration is not expected to be a significant factor in the future growth of Muslim populations in most countries in this sub-region.

Muslim population growth will come largely from natural population increases among previous waves of immigrants. The earliest Muslims are thought to have emigrated to Central and South America from Spain, followed by slaves from sub-Saharan Africa and laborers from the Middle East and India. Today, for example, a majority of Muslim immigrants to Argentina are from Arabic-speaking countries in the Middle East.

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If economic opportunities in Central and South America remain limited, immigration is not expected to be a significant factor in the future growth of Muslim populations in most countries in this sub-region.

Muslim population growth will come largely from natural population increases among previous waves of immigrants. The earliest Muslims are thought to have emigrated to Central and South America from Spain, followed by slaves from sub-Saharan Africa and laborers from the Middle East and India. Today, for example, a majority of Muslim immigrants to Argentina are from Arabic-speaking countries in the Middle East.

An analysis of data from Statistics Canada suggests that immigration will be an important factor in the growth of Canada’s Muslim population over the next 20 years.50 Canada has experienced a rapid increase in its immigrant Muslim population in recent decades. Before 1961, only about 1,000 foreign-born Muslims lived in Canada. The number of immigrant Muslims grew to roughly 10,000 during the 1960s, to nearly 51,000 in the 1970s, to about 78,000 in the 1980s and to almost 276,000 in the 1990s.

Among Muslim-majority countries, Pakistan, Iran, Lebanon, Morocco, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Algeria and Somalia have been the top countries of origin for immigrants to Canada in recent decades. With the exception of Lebanon and Somalia, the number of immigrants to Canada from these countries has steadily increased since the 1990s, according to an analysis of data from Statistics Canada; indications are that the numbers are continuing to increase. 51 For example, the number of Pakistanis who acquired citizenship in Canada rose from almost 15,000 in 1991-95 to about 41,000 from 1996-2001 and to nearly 58,000 from 2001-06.

Muslim Immigration to the United States

Muslim immigration to the United States has been steadily increasing since the 1990s, except for a slight dip following the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York City in 2001. 52 In 1992, nearly 50,000 Muslim immigrants were granted permanent residency status in the United States. By 2009, the annual number had increased to more than 115,000.53 If current trends continue, about 130,000 Muslims are expected to be granted permanent residency in the United States annually by 2030.

This report’s projections for Muslim immigrants to the U.S. are based partly on data from the 2003 New Immigrant Survey. Pew Forum staff used these data to calculate the proportion of all immigrants who are Muslim for each country from which large numbers of Muslims recently have come to the U.S. (This proportion does not necessarily match the religious composition of the country of origin. For instance, while Pakistan is 96.4% Muslim today, 89.5% of immigrants from Pakistan are estimated to be Muslim.) The proportion of immigrants who are Muslim for each country was then applied to the actual number of immigrants receiving permanent residency from that country, as reported by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security from 1992 to 2009.

These calculations show that Muslim immigrants have been rising both in absolute numbers and as a share of all immigrants receiving permanent U.S. residency. As previously mentioned, the number of Muslims receiving permanent residency grew from just under 50,000 in 1992 to about 115,000 in 2009, while the share that Muslims represent of all new permanent residents rose from about 5.1% in 1992 to about 10.2% in 2009. At the same time, the total number of immigrants receiving permanent residency status has fluctuated from year to year but has increased, on average, by about 2% annually from 1992 to 2009.

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Based on these trends, the projections for 2020 and 2030 conservatively assume a rate of growth of about 1% per year in the total number of new permanent residents. The projections also assume a slow rise in the share of Muslims among new permanent residents. Specifically, the projections start with Muslims making up 9.4% of a total of 938,000 new permanent residents per year, or an estimated 88,000 people in 2010. By 2020, Muslims are projected to comprise 10.5% of more than 1 million new permanent U.S. residents per year, or about 109,000 people annually. By 2030, the projections show Muslim immigrants making up 11.4% of more than 1.1 million projected new permanent residents, or about 130,000 people per year. All these projections assume that the year-to-year fluctuations in immigration numbers are less important than the long-term trends.

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The top countries of origin for Muslim immigrants to the United States in 2009 were Pakistan and Bangladesh. They also are expected to be the top countries of origin for Muslim immigrants in 2030.

About two-thirds of the Muslims in the U.S. today (64.5%) are foreign-born, first-generation immigrants, while slightly more than a third (35.5%) were born in the United States.54 By 2030, however, more than four-in-ten of the Muslims in the U.S. (44.9%) are expected to be nativeborn.

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Age Structure

Information on the age structure of Muslim populations in the Americas is available only for the U.S. and Canada.

The Muslim population in the United States today is somewhat younger than the general population of the U.S., but it is expected to be significantly younger by 2030.55 Currently, about 36% of U.S. Muslims are under age 30, compared with about 41% of non-Muslims in the U.S. By 2030, however, about 53% of U.S. Muslims are expected to be under age 30, compared with roughly 39% of non-Muslims.

Children under age 15 make up a relatively small portion of the U.S. Muslim population today. Only 13.1% of Muslims are in the 0-14 age category. This reflects the fact that a large proportion of Muslims in the U.S. are newer immigrants who arrived as adults. But by 2030, many of these immigrants are expected to start families. The number of U.S. Muslims under age 15 is projected to more than triple, from fewer than 500,000 in 2010 to 1.8 million in 2030. The number of Muslim children ages 0-4 living in the U.S. is expected to increase from fewer than 200,000 in 2010 to more than 650,000 in 2030.

It is important to note that this report does not project a rise in the Total Fertility Rate among Muslim women in the U.S. Rather, the projections assume that the fertility rate among new Muslim immigrants will gradually converge with that of the general population. The large expected increase in the number of Muslim children ages 0-4 in the U.S. is the result not of a rise in the fertility rate, but instead a rise in the number of Muslim women in their prime childbearing years.

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A smaller portion of U.S. Muslims will be age 60 and older in 2030 (9.5%) than in 2010 (13.1%), as the Muslim population shifts from being largely comprised of immigrants to one that has a growing number of native-born Muslims.

The Muslim population in Canada is significantly younger than the non-Muslim population in Canada. According to the 2001 Canadian census, the median age for Muslims in Canada is 28, compared with 37 for the general population. 56 Nearly a third of Muslims in Canada (29.0%) are age 14 and younger, compared with 19.4% of non-Muslims.

Canada also has a relatively large number of Muslims in or about to enter their prime childbearing years. The 2001 census found that 16.3% of Canada’s Muslims are between ages 15 and 24, compared with 13.4% of non-Muslims. More than a third of Canada’s Muslims (34.9%) are ages 25-44; 30.5% of non-Muslims fall into this age group.


Footnotes

40 The size of the Muslim population in the U.S. has been a subject of considerable debate. According to the Pew Research Center’s May 2007 report Muslim Americans: Middle Class and Mostly Mainstream, there were a total of 2.35 million Muslims (adults and children) nationwide. For a discussion of the varying estimates of the size of the Muslim population in the U.S., see Chapter 1 of the Pew Research Center report. (return to text)

41 Muslim population growth in Europe is projected to be slightly greater on average in the next 10 years than it was in the previous 10 years, but the rate of growth is projected to decline from 2020-30. Over the 20-year period from 2010 to 2030, the growth of Europe’s Muslim population is projected to be slower than it was from 1990 to 2010. (return to text)

42 Central and South America includes 46 countries and territories: Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Falkland Islands (Malvinas), French Guiana, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Martinique, Mexico, Montserrat, Netherlands Antilles, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands, U.S. Virgin Islands, Uruguay and Venezuela. North America includes five countries: Bermuda, Canada, Greenland, St. Pierre and Miquelon, and United States. There are no Muslim-majority countries or territories in the Americas. (return to text)

43 Vegard Skirbekk, Eric Kaufmann and Anne Goujon found that Jews in the U.S., with an estimated total fertility rate of 1.4, will comprise a decreasing share of the U.S. population in each of the five projection models they analyzed. The fertility rate for Jews in the U.S. is lower than the rate for the general U.S. population, and Jewish immigration is projected to be negligible. See Vegard Skirbekk, Eric Kaufmann and Anne Goujon, “Secularism, Fundamentalism, or Catholicism? The Religious Composition of the United States to 2043,” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, Volume 49, Number 2, pages 293-310, 2010. (return to text)

44 See Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life, U.S. Religious Landscape Survey, 2008. (return to text)

45 The New Immigrant Survey (NIS) is a nationally representative study of new legal immigrants to the United States and their children. The first full wave of the NI S was conducted from June 2003 to June 2004 and involved 10,000 respondents. Interviews were conducted face-to-face and by telephone in the respondent’s preferred language. The NI S was designed by Guillermina Jasso, Douglas S. Massey, Mark R. Rosenzweig and James P. Smith and funded by the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Additional support was provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, and The Pew Charitable Trusts. The Pew Forum had access to restricted-use data, which was retrieved in August 2007. For further information, see The New Immigrant Survey. (return to text)

46 The American Community Survey (ACS) is an annual survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau. It provides current demographic, social, economic and housing information about communities in the U.S. Pew Forum staff pooled 2004-2008 ACS data to make Total Fertility Rate calculations. The data sets were obtained from IPUMS-USA. (return to text)

47 The Division of Vital Statistics of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention collects a variety of health and population statistics for the United States. (return to text)

48 Alain Bélanger, Editor-in-Chief, “Report on the Demographic Situation in Canada: 2003 and 2004,” Statistics Canada, Catalogue number 91-209-XIE , 2006. (return to text)

49 Estimating the proportion of male and female Muslims in the U.S. is more complicated than it may seem. Previous surveys of Muslim Americans – including the self-identified Muslims reached in the Pew Research Center’s nationwide surveys over the past decade – tended to complete more interviews with males than females. However, potential cultural factors – in particular, the possibility that some Muslims consider it inappropriate for Muslim women to be interviewed by a stranger, especially if the interviewer is male – make these unreliable as measures of the overall sex balance among U.S. Muslims. The May 2007 Pew Research Center survey, Muslim Americans: Middle Class and Mostly Mainstream, made an effort to avoid this problem by matching female interviewers with female respondents whenever possible. See Methodology section of that survey report for a more extensive discussion of this issue. (return to text)

50 See Statistics Canada Demosim Team, Éric Caron Malenfant, André Lebel and Laurent Martel, “Projections of the Diversity of the Canadian Population, 2006 to 2031,” Catalogue number 91-551-X, March 2010. (return to text)

51 Note that immigrants to Canada from these Muslim-majority countries are not necessarily all Muslim. These data come from a 2007 analysis by Statistics Canada of the place of birth of the immigrant population, which includes 2006 counts and percentage distribution for Canadian provinces and territories, using 20% sample data. See Statistics Canada, “Immigration and Citizenship Highlight Tables,” 2006 Census, Catalogue number 97-557-XWE 2006002, Dec. 4, 2007. (return to text)

52 This research uses data from the New Immigrant Survey (NIS), a nationally representative study of new legal immigrants to the United States and their children. (return to text)

53 This is the most recent year for which permanent residency data are available from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. A permanent resident is also known as a green card holder. Permanent residency permits an individual to live and work in the United States on a permanent basis but does not allow him/her to vote in federal elections.(return to text)

54 These statistics differ slightly from the ones in the Pew Research Center’s May 2007 report, Muslim Americans: Middle Class and Mostly Mainstream, because they have been projected forward from 2006 to 2010. Because this study focuses on newer Muslim immigrants, groups such as Pakistani Muslims make up a larger share of Muslim immigrants in this study than they did in the 2007 report. (return to text)

55 The 2007 Pew Research Center survey of Muslim Americans found that the Muslim population in the United States is significantly younger than the general population, but it did not estimate the number of Muslims under age 18. See Chapter 1 of the Pew Research Center’s May 2007 report, Muslim Americans: Middle Class and Mostly Mainstream. (return to text)

56 The 2001 census also found that Muslims in Canada tended to be younger than members of other religious groups in the country. (return to text)