January 27, 2011

The Future of the Global Muslim Population

Region: Europe

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The number of Muslims in Europe has grown from 29.6 million in 1990 to 44.1 million in 2010.34 Europe’s Muslim population is projected to exceed 58 million by 2030. Muslims today account for about 6% of Europe’s total population, up from 4.1% in 1990. By 2030, Muslims are expected to make up 8% of Europe’s population. Although Europe’s Muslim population is growing, Europe’s share of the global Muslim population will remain quite small. Less than 3% of the world’s Muslims are expected to be living in Europe in 2030, about the same portion as in 2010 (2.7%).

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Most European Muslims will continue to live in Eastern Europe, but some of the biggest increases in Europe’s Muslim population in absolute numbers over the next 20 years are expected to occur in the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Germany and other countries in Western, Northern and Southern Europe.

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The number of Muslims in Europe is expected to grow by about the same amount in the next 20 years as it did in the previous two decades. From 1990 to 2010, the number of Muslims in Europe increased by about 14.5 million. In the next 20 years, the number of Muslims in the region is forecast to increase by roughly 14 million, albeit from a higher base.

In annual percentage terms, Europe’s Muslim population is projected to grow at a declining rate, in part because of falling fertility rates and in part because Muslim immigration to Europe is leveling off (see discussion of fertility on page 132 and of migration on page 133). Nevertheless, Europe’s Muslim population will continue to grow at a faster pace than its non-Muslim population, which has been decreasing. As a result, Muslims are expected to make up a growing share of Europe’s total population.

Sub-Regions and Countries in Europe

Sub-Regions in Europe

Eastern Europe will continue to have the largest number of Muslims in Europe, but Western Europe, Southern Europe and Northern Europe are expected to have bigger increases in the size of their Muslim populations – both in absolute numbers and as a share of their total populations.35

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Western Europe, which includes France, Germany and the Netherlands, is expected to have the biggest numerical increase in the size of its Muslim population. The number of Muslims living in this part of Europe is projected to increase by 5.1 million, from 11.3 million in 2010 to 16.4 million in 2030. The Muslim share of Western Europe’s total population is expected to increase from 6.0% in 2010 to 8.6% in 2030.

The number of Muslims living in Northern Europe, which includes the United Kingdom, is expected to increase from 3.8 million in 2010 to 7.5 million in 2030. Muslims are expected to make up 7.0% of Northern Europe’s population, up from 3.8% in 2010.

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The number of Muslims in Southern Europe – which includes Balkan countries such as Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Republic of Macedonia and Serbia, as well as Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain – is projected to increase by 3.1 million, from 10.7 million in 2010 to 13.8 million in 2030. Southern Europe as a whole has a higher proportion of Muslims than Eastern Europe; 6.9% of the population in Southern Europe today is Muslim, compared with 6.2% of the population in Eastern Europe. By 2030, 8.8% of people living in Southern Europe are expected to be Muslim, compared with 7.6% of the population in Eastern Europe.

Most of the growth in Eastern Europe’s Muslim population during the decades studied occurred from 1990 to 2000, when the percentage of Muslims in the population jumped from 4.9% to 6.2%. This increase followed the collapse of communism, when religious identity and expression became more acceptable throughout Eastern Europe. The total number of Muslims in Eastern Europe is expected to increase from 18.4 million in 2010 to 20.6 million in 2030.

While many Muslims living in Western and Northern Europe are relatively recent immigrants (or the children or grandchildren of immigrants), most of those in Russia and other parts of Eastern Europe belong to populations that are centuries old. Nevertheless, immigration continues to be a factor in the growth of Eastern Europe’s Muslim population, especially as Muslims continue to move from former Soviet republics to Russia in search of economic opportunities.

Muslims in the eastern parts of Southern Europe, including Albania and Kosovo, tend to belong to long-established Muslim communities, while Muslims in the rest of Southern Europe, stretching from Italy to Portugal, tend to be more recent immigrants.

Countries in Europe

Russia will continue to be the European country with the largest Muslim population in the next 20 years. (For more information on Russia’s Muslim population, see sidebar on page 128.) The number of Muslims in Russia is expected to grow from 16.4 million in 2010 to 18.6 million in 2030. Muslims are projected to make up 14.4% of Russia’s total population in 2030, up from 11.7% in 2010.

Spotlight on Russia

Expected Growth of Russia’s Muslim Population

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Russia has the largest Muslim population in absolute numbers in all of Europe. The number of Muslims in Russia is projected to increase from about 16.4 million in 2010 to about 18.6 million in 2030. The Muslim share of the country’s population is expected to increase from 11.7% in 2010 to 14.4% in 2030.

The growth rate for the Muslim population in the Russian Federation is projected to be 0.6% annually over the next two decades. By contrast, Russia’s non-Muslim population is expected to shrink by an average of 0.6% annually over the same 20-year period.

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Several factors contribute to the projected growth of Russia’s Muslim population. For instance, Muslim women generally have more children than other women in Russia (an estimated 2.3 children per woman, compared with a national average of fewer than 1.5 children per woman).1 Higher Muslim fertility is directly related to the fact that Muslim women marry in larger numbers and divorce less often than other women in Russia. This means they spend longer periods of their lives in unions where childbearing is more likely. And although the abortion rate in Russia is still among the highest in the world, research suggests that Muslim women have fewer abortions on average than other women in Russia. 2

Another reason the Muslim population in Russia is expected to increase is that nearly half of the country’s Muslims are under age 30, according to an analysis of data from Russia’s 2002 census. By comparison, about 40% of ethnic Russians are in this age group. Nearly a quarter of Russia’sMuslims (22.8%) are under age 15, compared with roughly one-in-six ethnic Russians (15.9%). 3

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On the older end of the age spectrum, about 27% of Russia’s Muslims are age 45 and older, compared with about 38% of ethnic Russians. And 13.1% of Muslims in Russia are age 60 and older, compared with nearly a fifth of the ethnic Russian population (19.1%).

The Muslim population in Russia is geographically concentrated in a few regions. As of 2009, four-in-five Muslims in Russia resided in two of the seven federal districts, the Volga and Southern districts. Among the 89 sub-regions of Russia in 2009, Muslims were concentrated in five traditionally Muslim homelands: Dagestan (16.3% of all Muslims), Bashkortostan (14.6%), Tatarstan (13.5%), Chechnya (7.4%) and Kabardino- Balkaria (4.7%). Smaller numbers of Muslims lived in three other Muslim homelands: Ingushetia (3.0% of all Muslims), Karachaevo-Cherkessia (1.9%) and Adygea (0.8%). Altogether, about two-thirds of all Muslims in Russia (62.3%) resided in one of the traditionally Muslim homelands.

Moscow has become a migration magnet for people from elsewhere in Russia, as well as beyond Russia. More than 600,000 Muslims reside in Moscow (3.7% of all Muslims in Russia) and an additional 517,000 live in the oil-rich Tyumen region (3.0%), which borders Kazakhstan to the south.


Footnotes

1 The fertility rate estimate for Muslims is based on an analysis of the number of children ever born to Muslim women in Russia ages 40-49. (return to text)

2 By some estimates, 45% of all pregnancies in Russia end in abortion. Some researchers suggest that the rate among Muslims is significantly lower. See Judyth Twigg, “Differential Demographics: Russia’s Muslim and Slavic Populations,” PON ARS Policy Memo No. 388, December 2005. (return to text)

3 The Russian census did not ask about people’s religious affiliation, but it did ask about their ethnicity, which is highly correlated with religious identity in Russia. Of the 184 ethnic groups identified in the 2002 Russian census, 56 are predominantly Muslim. Two Muslim groups with homelands along the Volga River, the Tatars and Bashkirs, make up nearly half of the Muslims in Russia. The Tatars represent about a third of Russia’s Muslim population, while the Bashkirs make up about a tenth (11%). Chechens are the third-largest ethnic Muslim group, accounting for about 10% of Russia’s Muslims. Some other significant ethnic Muslim groups either have populations concentrated in the Caucasus or have homelands outside of Russia (e.g., Kazakhs, Azeris, Uzbeks, Tajiks, Turkmen and Kyrgyz). Most of the ethnic groups classified as Muslim are quite small, making up less than 1% of the total Muslim population in Russia. While ethnicity and religion are closely related in Russia, they are not identical. An analysis by Pew Forum staff of data from the 2004 Russia Generations and Gender Survey, carried out by the U.N. Economic Commission for Europe, suggests that more than 5% of people with traditionally Muslim ethnicities (or whose native language is traditionally considered a Muslim language) are Christian. Even larger percentages indicate they have no religion. At the same time, ethnicities not generally counted as Muslim also include people who identify themselves as Muslims. For instance, 0.1% of ethnic Russians, including those who list Russian as their native language, identified as Muslim in the 2004 Generations and Gender Survey. (return to text)

The United Kingdom is expected to have the largest increase in the number of Muslims in Europe in the next 20 years. The number of Muslims in the U.K. is projected to almost double from 2.9 million in 2010 to 5.6 million in 2030. By 2030, Muslims are expected to make up 8.2% of the U.K.’s population, up from 4.6% in 2010. The United Kingdom is forecast to have roughly the same number of Muslims as Germany by 2030.

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France’s Muslim population is expected to climb from 4.7 million in 2010 to 6.9 million in 2030. Germany’s Muslim population is expected to increase from 4.1 million to 5.5 million during this period. Although Italy, Sweden, Spain, Belgium and Austria have smaller numbers of Muslims than the U.K., Germany and France, their Muslim populations are forecast to grow significantly in the next 20 years. The Muslim populations in Italy and Sweden are projected to more than double in size, while those in Spain, Belgium and Austria will likely increase significantly.

Though Ireland has a relatively small Muslim population, it is expected to have the largest percentage increase in Europe in the number of Muslims. Its Muslim population is projected to increase by almost 188%. Other European countries expected to have percentage increases of more than 100% include Finland, Norway, Sweden and Italy. Countries projected to have percentage increases of 50-100% include the United Kingdom, Spain, Belgium, Austria and Switzerland. The Republic of Macedonia is projected to have the largest increase in the portion of its population that is Muslim. By 2030, Muslims are expected to make up 40.3% of Macedonia’s population, up 5.4 percentage points from 2010 (34.9% Muslim). In Sweden, the Muslim share of the population is projected to increase by five percentage points, from 4.9% in 2010 to 9.9% in 2030.

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In 2030, Muslims are projected to make up more than 10% of the total population in 10 European countries: Kosovo (93.5%), Albania (83.2%), Bosnia-Herzegovina (42.7%), Republic of Macedonia (40.3%), Montenegro (21.5%), Bulgaria (15.7%), Russia (14.4%), Georgia (11.5%), France (10.3%) and Belgium (10.2%).

Fertility

One reason the Muslim population of Europe is projected to rise, both in absolute numbers and as a percentage of the population, is because Muslims’ fertility rates are generally higher than those of non-Muslims in Europe.

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Based on an analysis of current trends in the 25 European countries for which data are available, Muslim women today will have an average of 2.2 children each, compared with an estimated average of 1.5 children each for non-Muslim women in Europe.36 However, the fertility gap between Muslims and non-Muslims in Europe is expected to narrow in the coming years. By 2025-30, the average fertility rate for Muslim women in the 25 countries for which data are available is expected to drop to 2.0 children per woman, while the average fertility rate for non- Muslim women is projected to increase slightly, to 1.6 children per woman.

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With the exception of Bosnia-Herzegovina, the fertility rate for Muslims is higher than that for non-Muslims in each of the countries in Europe for which data are available. Among the countries where the gap is particularly large is Norway, where the fertility rate for Muslims is 3.1 children per woman, compared with 1.8 children per woman for non-Muslims. Large gaps in fertility rates between Muslims and non-Muslims also exist in Austria, Finland, Ireland, Kosovo, Serbia and the United Kingdom. In countries where the gap is larger, it will likely take more time for Muslim and non-Muslim fertility rates to converge.

Sex Ratios

The ratio of men to women also will have an impact on Muslim fertility rates in coming decades. When a population has more men than women, the number of births tends to be lower than if the population is more balanced. Immigrant populations, including Muslims in Europe, generally have more men than women, as many male workers leave their families behind when they go abroad in search of better economic opportunities. For this reason, sex ratios tend to be higher in European countries where Muslim immigrants have come primarily in search of employment, such as Spain.

Spain – which has a large number of Muslim immigrants from North Africa, particularly Morocco – now has the highest ratio of Muslim men to Muslim women in Europe (about 190 Muslim men for every 100 Muslim women). That ratio is projected to narrow by 2030, to about 133 Muslim men for every 100 Muslim women, as families join Muslim men who immigrated alone in search of employment.

Italy is expected to have the highest ratio of Muslim men to Muslim women by 2030. Italy now has about 157 Muslim men for every 100 Muslim women. This ratio will drop to about 137 Muslim men for every 100 Muslim women by 2030, slightly above the projected level for Spain. Italy’s Muslim population includes a large number of immigrants from Albania and North Africa.

Not all countries with a high number of Muslim immigrants have a significant imbalance between the number of Muslim men and women, however. For example, France – currently the European country with the second-largest Muslim population, after Russia – has about 97 Muslim men for every 100 Muslim women.

Life Expectancy at Birth

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

Migration

A major factor in the growth of Europe’s Muslim population in recent decades has been the large influx of immigrants from South Asia, North Africa, Turkey and other parts of the developing world.37

Spain is likely to remain an important destination for Muslim immigrants to Europe in 2010-15. Spain was expected to see a net gain of 70,000 Muslim immigrants in 2010; the largest number were expected to come from Morocco.38 Muslims are estimated to make up a relatively small minority of Spain’s immigrants in 2010 (13.1% of all new immigrants), but Muslims’ proportion of new immigrants to Spain is nearly six times as large as their share of Spain’s total population (2.3% in 2010).39

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In France, as of mid-2010, Muslims were expected to account for more than two-thirds of all new immigrants (68.5%) for the year. France was expected to see a net gain of almost 66,000 Muslim immigrants in 2010, primarily from North Africa.

The United Kingdom’s net inflow of Muslim immigrants in 2010 (64,000) was forecast to be nearly as large as France’s. More than a quarter of all immigrants to the U.K. in 2010 (28.1%) were expected to be Muslim.

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This report’s projections for Muslim immigration to Europe are based on projections made by Eurostat and the United Nations. The Eurostat and U.N. projections, however, do not include data on religious groups; they project future numbers of immigrants and emigrants only by nationality. The estimated proportion of Muslims among European immigrants and emigrants was calculated using data from the World Religion Database on the religious composition of their countries of origin. For the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Ireland, Belgium, Norway and Switzerland, additional information on immigrants and emigrants was obtained from national statistical offices.

Based on current economic, political and social conditions, European countries on the whole will likely continue to be a draw for Muslim immigrants in the years ahead. But several European countries that have been a major destination for Muslims are projected to have fewer Muslim immigrants in the five-year period from 2025 to 2030 than in the period from 2010 to 2015.

Age Structure

Generally speaking, Muslim populations in Europe today are more youthful than their non- Muslim counterparts. People under age 30 comprise about 49% of the Muslim population in Europe in 2010, compared with about 34% of the non-Muslim population. Europe’s Muslim population is projected to remain relatively youthful in the coming two decades. In 2030, about 42% of Europe’s Muslim population is expected to be under age 30, compared with about 31% of the non-Muslim population.

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Over the next 20 years, however, both Muslims and non-Muslims in Europe are expected to see a decline in the portion of their populations between ages 15 and 29 (those approaching or already in their prime childbearing years). People between 15 and 29 are expected to make up about 21% of Europe’s Muslim population in 2030, down from about 26% in 2010. The portion of Europe’s non-Muslim population in this age group is expected to decline from about 19% in 2010 to roughly 16% in 2030.

At the same time, the portion of Europe’s Muslim population age 60 and older is projected to rise from almost 11% in 2010 to about 16% in 2030. While this represents a substantial increase, the portion of the non-Muslim population in the 60-and-older age group (31%) will be approximately double that of Muslims.


Footnotes

34 The 2010 population estimates for 25 of the 50 European countries and territories vary significantly from the 2009 estimates contained in the Pew Forum’s 2009 report Mapping the Global Muslim Population. The updated estimates take into account new and better sources of data that have become available since the first report was published. They also reflect differences between the methodology used in this report and the one used in the 2009 report. (See methodology.) The 2010 estimates were calculated primarily by the staff of the Age and Cohort Change project of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Laxenburg, Austria. Updated population estimates are used for the following countries: Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Denmark, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Kosovo, Luxembourg, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Republic of Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine and United Kingdom. In all but a few cases, the 2010 estimates are higher than the 2009 estimates. In the Netherlands, for example, the percentage of the population that is Muslim in 2010 (5.5%) is actually lower than the percentage reported in the 2009 Pew Forum report (5.7%). IIASA used a newer source from Statistics Netherlands to calculate the 2010 estimate. (return to text)

35 Eastern Europe includes 11 countries and territories: Belarus, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Georgia, Hungary, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia and Ukraine. Northern Europe includes 13 countries and territories: Channel Islands, Denmark, Estonia, Faeroe Islands, Finland, Iceland, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Isle of Man, Norway, Sweden and United Kingdom. Southern Europe includes 17 countries and territories: Albania, Andorra, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Gibraltar, Greece, Italy, Kosovo, Malta, Montenegro, Portugal, Republic of Macedonia, San Marino, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain and Vatican City. Western Europe includes nine countries and territories: Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands and Switzerland. The two Muslim-majority countries in Europe are in green. (return to text)

36 The average fertility rate of 2.2 children per woman among Muslims in Europe is weighted by country population so that the most populous countries affect the average more than the smaller countries. The same is true for the average fertility rate for non-Muslim women. (return to text)

37 For background information, see the Pew Forum’s 2010 report Muslim Networks and Movements in Western Europe. (return to text)

38 Spain has an even larger number of immigrants coming from other European countries and from South America. Sizable numbers of immigrants to Spain also come from Asia, including recent immigrant streams from China. As the table on page 135 shows, the annual number of Muslim immigrants to Spain is projected to drop sharply by 2025-30, primarily because many of the Muslim immigrants to Spain are temporary workers facing declining economic prospects. (return to text)

39 Data on numbers and nationalities of immigrants and emigrants from the countries discussed in this section are provided by Eurostat, the U.N. and country statistical offices. The proportion of Muslims among these immigrants and emigrants is assumed to be the same as the proportion in the general population in their countries of origin. (return to text)


Cite this publication: Joseph Liu. “The Future of the Global Muslim Population.” Pew Research Center, Washington, D.C. (January 27, 2011) http://www.pewforum.org/2011/01/27/the-future-of-the-global-muslim-population/, accessed on July 23, 2014.