Wind of (Demographic) Change: Europe's Muslim Population Set to Triple by 2050

Wind of (Demographic) Change: Europe's Muslim Population Set to Triple by 2050

"While Europe's Muslim population is expected to grow in all three scenarios - and more than double in the medium and high migration scenarios - Europe's non-Muslims, on the other hand, are projected to decline in total number in each scenario", says the Pew report.

All three scenarios - zero, moderate and high - considered by researchers produced a thought-provoking outcome: the number of Muslims in Europe will rise at any rate of migration, as they are younger and "have higher fertility (one child more per woman, on average) than other Europeans, mirroring a global pattern".

In the "high migration" scenario, the study projects that the record flow of migrants who came to Europe between 2015 and 2016 would continue indefinitely, resulting in 75 million Muslims in Europe, a 14 percent increase, by the middle of the century.

All three used a mid-2016 estimate of 25.8 million Muslims in Europe as a baseline to make the projections. As a proportion of the continent's overall population, that represents an increase from around five percent to a figure ranging from 7.5 percent to 14 percent.

Even with the most immigration, Muslims would "still be considerably smaller than the populations of both Christians and people with no religion in Europe", the researchers concluded. In Sweden, almost a third of the population (4.5 million, or 30 percent) would be Muslims, whereas in Austria and Germany Muslims would represent up to 19 percent of the population.

Under the "medium" scenario, Britain - the top destination for non-refugee Muslims migration - would pass out France while under the "high" scenario the mantle would pass to Germany, which has received over 1.5 million refugees in the past two years.

A major conclusion is that even if all migration into Europe were to stop ("zero" migration scenario), the continent's Muslim population would likely rise from the current level of 4.9 percent to 7.4 percent by 2050 - because on average Muslims are younger and have higher fertility than other Europeans.

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France has the highest percentage of Muslim residents in Europe, with Muslims making up around 8.8 percent of the population. The 30 countries it covered include the 28 European Union members, plus Norway and Switzerland.

This influx of newcomers has affected national politics, sparked debate about European culture and identity, and led to a wave of racist and xenophobic backlash from within Europe.

Among the most astonishing aspects of Pew's research are its predictions regarding the geographical location of this migration.

The Pew study was based on census and survey data, population registers, immigration data and other sources.

The countries projected to experience the biggest changes in the "medium" migration scenario, such as the United Kingdom, tend to have received the highest numbers of "regular" Muslim migrants. Germany - the country that has taken in the highest number of migrants since 2015 - could be made up of anywhere between 9 percent and 20 percent Muslims by 2050.

Eastern Europe, meanwhile, is projected to have a low Muslim population of no more than 4.5% in any one country, with the exception of Bulgaria, where Muslims already comprise over 10% of the population, for historical reasons.

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