The Muslim Birthrate Versus the Christian Birthrate
In my book, Muslim Mechanics, I address the prediction that the Muslim population will exceed the Christian population in the next 30-50 years. Currently, the Pew Research Center lists the Muslim population at 1.9 billion and the Christian population at 2.4 billion people. Recently, I read two articles that have a bearing on whether that prediction will manifest. The first article, "Visualizing the World's Plummeting Fertility Rate," was researched and written by Pallavi Rao and published on April 10 on the Visual Capitalist blog. The second report comes from The Club of Rome, "The Limits to Growth+50." If you remember, it was 50 years ago that The Club of Rome published its original landmark report on the earth's inability to support unlimited population growth.
The Club of Rome Report
First, let's discuss The Club of Rome report. The authors of that report state:
"Once humanity has entered this unsustainable territory, we will have to move back into sustainable territory, either through "managed decline" of activity, or we will be forced to move back through "collapse" caused by the brutal inherent processes of nature or the market."
" Interestingly, over the past half-century, the world has progressed remarkably close to the "business-as-usual" scenario.
"According to some experts, we actually already reached this point in the 1980s, which means that humanity now faces an unprecedented planetary emergency that threatens our very survival on this planet."
In other words, the Club of Rome thinks that the population already exceeds some unknown limit, and the earth's resources, climate, and ecosystems will be unable to support the growing population. That implies massive famine and climate change will make our planet uninhabitable. In that case, both Muslims and Christians will perish. Poorer countries will suffer more than developed countries, meaning Muslims will suffer disproportionately more than Christians.
The Plummeting Fertility Rate
As reported in the Visual Capitalist blog, the World Bank collects information on all countries to discern social, economic, and demographic trends. Some of the data researched by Rao was the fertility rate of countries from 1960, 1975, 1990, 2005, and 2020. I used their data for 1960 and 2020 to show how the fertility rates of different countries changed over those 60 years. In addition, I identified the Muslim-majority countries where 50 percent or more of the population is Muslim and the Christian-majority countries where 50 percent or more of the population is Christian. I will not say that this is a scientific study, but I will say that the information gives us some good talking points.
The Pew Research Center recognizes 51 Muslim-majority countries, while the US CIA World Factbook shows 49 countries. Numbers may differ depending on recognizing territories such as Western Sahara or Palestine. My sample included 43 countries only because some countries were missing fertility statistics. Remember that some countries like India, with a substantial Muslim population, were not included, as India is neither a Muslim-majority nor a Christian-majority country.
I followed the same procedures for identifying Christian-majority countries. In my sample, there were 88 Christian-majority countries. One hundred ninety-three countries are United Nations member states, and my two sample groups totaled (43 +88) 131 countries, representing 67 percent of the world's countries. Considering that Muslims and Christians combined make up a little more than 50 percent of the world's population, I would say the sample I'm using represents what's happening worldwide.
My data calculations show the average fertility rate for all Muslim and Christian countries between 1960 and 2020. The fertility rates are not in proportion to the country's size. In this study, small countries carry the same weight as large countries. However, the averages and trends represent the world because the samples are so large.
For example, the 1960 fertility rate for Afghanistan is 7.28. This number is the average number of births per woman over a lifetime. So the average Afghanistani woman in 1960 can be expected to have 7 or 8 children over her lifetime. That makes sense. In 1960, Afghanistan was a backward rural country with little industry other than poppy farming. A large family made it easier for a family to survive. A large family was a form of social security. Move forward 60 years. The 2020 fertility rate for Afghanistan is 4.75. With some degree of industrialization and increased farm production, the birth rate has now declined – the average Afghanistani woman can be expected to have 4 or 5 children over her lifetime.
According to the UN, nearly two-thirds of the world's population lives in an area where the fertility rate is below the critical 2.1 threshold. The 2.1 threshold is the number of children that the women of a given country must give birth to replace the current population as they grow old and die off.
Muslim-majority countries versus Christian-majority countries
Forty-three Muslim-majority countries had an average 6.6 fertility rate in 1960. Sixty years later, in 2020, the fertility rate dropped to 3.3, a 50 percent decline in the fertility rate. Some standout countries included Iran, 7.3 to 1.71; Turkey, 6.38 to 1.92 and Indonesia, the most populous Muslim nation, 5.55 to 2.19.
Declining fertility rates are a consequence of several factors, including (but not limited to):
· Better access to contraception
· Economic opportunities for women
· Better healthcare, lower child mortality
In the past, having more children meant a better chance of some making it to adulthood to care for their parents in their old age.
In comparison, 88 Christian-majority countries had an average 4.8 fertility rate in 1960. In 2020, their fertility rate was 2.3, a 52 percent decline. Some notable countries included Puerto Rico, 4.8 to .9 (the lowest in both samples), and the United States, the largest Christian country, 3.65 to 1.64. The U.S. is well below the 2.1 threshold rate, which explains why the U.S. has an open border policy on its southern border.
I stand by my prediction that Muslim population growth will not overcome Christian population growth in the next 30 to 50 years. The reasons I feel this way are:
1. For the past 60 years, the Muslim birthrate's decline mirrors the Christian birthrate's. Both groups of countries, over that period, have declined approximately 50 percent. However, the Christian nations are near the bottom of the range and cannot drop much further. The Muslim countries have much more room to decline. Thus Muslim fertility rates, over the next 30 to 50 years, should decrease faster than those in Christian countries.
2. The impact studies by The Club of Rome suggest that our planet is experiencing significant climate and ecosystem disasters such as tornadoes, hurricanes, typhoons, volcanoes, famine, and plagues. In addition, mismanagement of global resources will cause animal and plant species to die off and wars between competing economic entities.
As you can imagine, the Christian/Muslim ratio will stay about the same as our world teeters on chaos. If our world plummets into turmoil on a massive basis, I expect the Christian side to expand slightly at our Muslim neighbors' expense. I could be wrong, but that's how I see the dice rolling.