163581158
Getty Images

The World Is Getting More Religious

Apr 02, 2015

Atheists, agnostics and other people who don’t affiliate with a religion will make up a smaller fraction of the world’s population in 2050, according to a new study.

The Pew Research Center study released Thursday found that the growth of major religious groups will outpace the rise in the unaffiliated population despite trends in the United States and other Western countries, where the proportion of religiously unaffiliated people is expected to grow. By 2050, the total global population is expected to rise to 9.3 billion from 6.9 billion today.

Islam will expand faster than any other major religion, according to the report, with Muslims and Christians expected make up nearly equal shares of the global population by 2050 for the first time. While much of the Muslim and Christian population growth is expected to occur in Sub-Saharan Africa, the share of Muslims in Europe and the U.S. is also expected to grow.

In Europe, for example, Muslims will make up 10% of the total population. In the U.S., they will make up 2.1%, up from 0.9%, and outnumbering the Jewish population in America.

Among all major religions, Buddhism is the only one that is not expected to expand by 2050, due largely to low fertility rates in countries like China and Japan. Here's a breakdown of religious growth around the world from the Pew Research Center:

Islam Growing Fastest

The Most Surprising Photos of Pope Francis

Pope Francis
The wind lifts Pope Francis' mantle as he delivers his speech in front of Independence Hall in Philadelphia, on Sept. 26, 2015.Tony Gentile—AP
Pope Francis
Pope Francis US visit
Pope Francis US Visit mannequin
Pope Francis US Visit
Pope Francis US Visit nuns selfie
Pope Francis Birthday
Francis
Vatican Benedict
POPE: EASTER HOLY MASS
BRASIL-POPE-FRANCIS-MASK
Italy - Religion - Pope Francis leads Worldwide Eucharistic Adoration
Vatican Pope
Pope Francis attends the opening of the Pastoral Convention of the Diocese of Rome at the Vatican
Pope Francis waves as he leaves Guanabara Palace where he attended a welcoming ceremony in Rio de Janeiro
Pope Francis waves as he arrives to lead the weekly audience in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican
Pope Francis
Catholic faithful with sticker bearing an image of Pope Francis on his forehead looks on while waiting for the Pope to arrive in Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro
Pope Francis is projected on screens at Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro
Pope Francis is pictured inside his plane before departing from Rio de Janeiro at Galeao Air Base
Brazil Pope Photo Gallery
Pope Francis in Brazil
POPE FRANCIS MEETS PIACENZA PILGRIMS
Vatican, St. Peter's Square - General Audience of Pope Francis
Pope Francis wears a firefighter helmet as he arrives to lead his Wednesday general audience in Saint Peter's square at the Vatican
Pope Francis is silhouetted against window light at the end of a meeting at the Vatican
Pope Francis photographed in the Vatican, Rome, Italy in November-December, 2013. Pope Francis was chosen as TIME Magazine's 2013 Person of the Year.
Vatican Russia
APTOPIX Vatican Cold Pope
Pope Francis' General Audience
Pope Francis - General Audience - Nov. 20 2013
ITALY-VATICAN-POPE-VISIT-EPIPHANY
Pope Francis reacts as he leads a Wednesday general audience in Saint Peter's square at the Vatican
A dove released during an Angelus prayer conducted by Pope Francis, is attacked by a seagull at the Vatican
A scarf thrown by faithful is seen on the face of Pope Francis during the general audience in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican
Italy - Feature - First Pope Francis graffiti murales appears in Rome
TOPSHOTS-VATICAN-RELIGION-POPE-AUDIENCE
Obama - Pope Francis
Italy - H.M Queen Elisabeth and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh meets Pope Francis
ITALY-VATICAN-POPE-MAUNDY--THURSDAY
ITALY-VATICAN-POPE-MAUNDY--THURSDAY
Vatican Pope
The wind lifts Pope Francis' mantle as he delivers his speech in front of Independence Hall in Philadelphia, on Sept. 26
... VIEW MORE

Tony Gentile—AP
1 of 41
TIME may receive compensation for some links to products and services on this website. Offers may be subject to change without notice.