New Facts About Families
Recent Findings on Family Meals, Cohabitation and Divorce
by D’Vera Cohn, Senior Writer, Pew Research Center
More than 2,000 demographers, sociologists and others converged on Washington, D.C., recently for the Population Association of America’s annual meeting. Among the poster sessions and papers presented were some that dispute the popular (or academic) wisdom about important aspects of family life. Three are described here, along with Pew Research Center survey findings that bear on the topics they cover — family meals, cohabitation and divorce.
Conference presentations are typically works-in-progress, to be revised as more information becomes available or challenges to their methodology are resolved. They are not the final word on these topics, and should not be taken as the new conventional wisdom. But they raise valuable questions about substantive issues.
Take family meals, for example. Everybody knows that children turn out better if they grow up in a home where the family gathers around the dinner table each night, right? Not so fast, according to a poster presented by researchers from Boston University and Columbia University. They used data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study to ask whether academic performance and behavior of children from kindergarten through eighth grade could be linked to how often they ate breakfast or dinner with their families. (They accounted for — in research parlance, “controlled for” — factors such as family income and school quality that also could affect their results.)
The research suggests “that there is little or no average effect of [family meal frequency] on child cognitive and behavioral outcomes during the period from kindergarten to eighth grade.” Previous studies may not be wrong, but their results “should be interpreted with caution,” according to Daniel P. Miller and Wen-Jui Han. The two acknowledge that their research did not look at older teenagers; earlier research has suggested that adolescents who often have family meals are less likely to abuse drugs or alcohol or to have behavior problems.
A recent Pew Research Center report on family issues includes some data on frequency of family meals, taken from a survey of adults last October. Among parents of children under age 18, half say they have dinner every day with some or all of their children, 34% say they have family meals a few times a week, 11% say they do so occasionally and 3% say they never do.
On the topic of cohabitation, everybody knows that couples who live together before marriage are more likely to divorce than couples who do not, because that is what much research has found. But some recent work disputes that conclusion. Now that most couples move in together before they marry, cohabitation may not be as linked to divorce as it was when live-in couples were less common.
The Pew Research Center report on families, released last year, found that 44% of adults (and more than half of 30- to 49-year-olds) say they have cohabited at some point. Nearly two-thirds of adults who ever cohabited (64%) say they thought about it as a step toward marriage. The report also notes a trend toward rising public acceptance of cohabiting couples over the years. Most Americans now say the rise in unmarried couples living together either makes no difference to society (46%) or is good for society (9%).
A paper by Bowling Green State University researchers, using data from the National Survey of Family Growth, concluded that among women who married since the mid-1990s, cohabitation is not tied to heightened risk of divorce. Looking at women who married in the past 15 years, “our work shows that cohabitation no longer influences marital instability,” wrote researchers Wendy D. Manning and Jessica A. Cohen in the paper they presented at the population meeting.
An abundance of research about divorce links it to increased risk of problems for children both in the immediate aftermath of the split and later on in life. In fact, the phrase “intergenerational transmission of divorce” is used to describe the elevated risk of divorce among children whose parents divorced. But in certain cases, a parent’s divorce does not raise the risk that their children’s marriages or cohabitations will break up, according to a paper by researchers at Montclair State University.
Using data from the National Survey of Families and Households, Constance T. Gager and Miriam R. Linver compared the relationship paths of adult children who grew up in different types of households. They focused especially on children whose parents often argued. In general, having “high conflict parents” is associated with a child’s higher risk of divorce in adulthood, but the researchers concluded that it also matters whether the parents stay together or split up. They wrote: “Our key findings are that children who had high conflict parents are less likely to have experienced a cohabiting or marital dissolution if their parents divorced compared to children from high conflict families whose parents remained together.”
A 2007 Pew Research Center report found that most Americans (58%) think that divorce is preferable to staying in an unhappy marriage. A larger majority (67%) says that in a marriage where the parents are very unhappy with each other, the children are better off if their parents get divorced; 19% say the children are better off if their parents stay together; and 9% say it depends.
Shifting Political Winds
Frustration with Government but Less Anger; More Support Gay Marriage, Abortion
The public remains deeply frustrated with the federal government, but fewer Americans say they are angry at government than did so last fall. Overall, the percentage saying they are angry with the federal government has fallen from 23% last September to 14% today, with much of the decline coming among Republicans and Tea Party supporters.
While anger at government has subsided, the public expresses no greater taste for political compromise today than it did last fall. As political leaders head into a tough political debate over the budget, 54% say they like elected officials who stick to their positions, while 40% prefer officials who make compromises with people they disagree with. This is virtually identical to the balance of opinion among registered voters last September.
By roughly two-to-one (63% vs. 32%), more Republicans say they like elected officials who stick to their positions rather than those who make compromises. About half of independents (53%) prefer politicians who stick to their positions compared with 41% who like elected officials who make compromises with people they disagree with. Democrats are evenly divided — 48% like elected officials who stick to their positions, 46% like those who compromise.
The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted Feb. 22-Mar. 1 among 1,504 adults, finds a modest recovery in public trust in government from historic lows last year. Yet even with this uptick, the general mood remains overwhelmingly
Just 29% say they can trust the government in Washington to do what is right just about always or most of the time, up from 22% last March. About seven-in-ten (69%) say they trust the government only some of the time or never, compared with 76% a year ago.
The proportion of Republicans saying they can trust the government always or most of the time has increased from 13% to 24% over the past year; opinions among Democrats are unchanged over this period, at 34%.
The public continues to express negative views of Congress, as well as Republican and Democratic congressional leaders. Just 34% say they have a favorable opinion of Congress, up slightly from 26% a year ago; a majority (57%) has an unfavorable view. Comparable percentages say they approve of the job performance of Republican (36%) and Democratic (33%) congressional leaders.
By contrast, Barack Obama’s job ratings remain positive. Currently, 51% approve of Barack Obama’s job performance while 39% disapprove. That is little changed from early February, but Obama’s ratings have shown significant improvement since last fall, when about as many approved as disapproved.
The survey finds a continuing rise in support for same-sex marriage since 2009. Currently, 45% say they favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally while 46% are opposed. In Pew Research surveys conducted in 2010, 42% favored and 48% opposed gay marriage and in 2009, just 37% backed same-sex marriage while 54% were opposed.
Over the same period, there has been movement toward a liberal position on abortion. In 2009, for the first time in many years, the public was evenly divided over whether abortion should be legal or illegal in all or most cases. But support for legal abortion has recovered and now stands at about the same level as in 2008 (55% then, 54% today).
Independents have become more supportive of both gay marriage and legal abortion since 2009. Roughly half of independents (51%) now favor same-sex marriage, up from 37% in 2009. And 58% of independents say that abortion should be legal in all or most cases, compared with 47% in Pew Research Center surveys two years ago.
The public’s overall views of labor unions have changed little through the lengthy stalemate between Wisconsin’s governor and the state’s public employee unions over collective bargaining rights. About half (47%) say they have a favorable opinion of labor unions compared with 39% who have an unfavorable opinion. In early February, 45% expressed a favorable opinion of unions and 41% said they had an unfavorable view. However, liberal Democrats and people in union households are more likely to say they have a very favorable opinion of labor unions than they were just weeks ago.
For more on public attitudes toward labor unions, see Pew Research’s Feb. 17 report. For more on views of the showdown in Wisconsin between the governor and public employee unions, see this report, released Feb. 28.
- Trust in government
- Views on political compromise
- Attitudes toward gay marriage, abortion, gun control and marijuana legalization
- Opinions of labor unions
The internet is now deeply embedded in group and organizational life in America. A new national survey by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project has found that 75% of all American adults are active in some kind of voluntary group or organization, and internet users are more likely than others to be active: 80% of internet users participate in groups, compared with 56% of non-internet users. And social media users are even more likely to be active: 82% of social network users and 85% of Twitter users are group participants.
The overall impact of the internet on group activities and accomplishments
In this survey, the Pew Internet Project asked about 27 different kinds of groups and found great diversity in group membership and participation using traditional and new technologies. It becomes clear as people are asked about their activities that their use of the internet is having a wide-ranging impact on their engagement with civic, social and religious groups. Asked to assess the overall impact of the internet on group activities:
- 68% of all Americans (internet users and non-users alike) said the internet has had a major impact on the ability of groups to communicate with members. Some 75% of internet users said that.
- 62% of all Americans said the internet has had a major impact on the ability of groups to draw attention to an issue. Some 68% of internet users said that.
- 60% of all Americans said the internet has had a major impact on the ability of groups to connect with other groups. Some 67% of internet users said that.
- 59% of all Americans said the internet has had a major impact on the ability of groups to impact society at large. Some 64% of internet users said that.
- 59% of all Americans said the internet has had a major impact on the ability of groups to organize activities. Some 65% of internet users said that.
- 52% of all Americans said the internet has had a major impact on the ability of groups to raise money. Some 55% of internet users said that.
- 51% of all Americans said the internet has had a major impact on the ability of groups to recruit new members. Some 55% of internet users said that.
- 49% of all Americans said the internet has had a major impact on the ability of groups to impact local communities. Some 52% of internet users said that.
- 35% of all Americans said the internet has had a major impact on the ability of groups to find people to take leadership roles. Some 35% of internet users said that.
- 53% of the online Americans who are active in groups say the internet has had a major impact on their ability to keep up with news and information about their groups; 30% say the internet has had a minor impact on that.
- 41% of these internet-using active group members say the internet has had a major impact on their ability to organize activities for their groups; 33% say the internet has had a minor impact on that.
- 35% of these internet-using active group members say the internet has had a major impact on their ability to invite friends to join their groups; 36% say the internet has had a minor impact on that.
- 33% of these internet-using active group members say the internet has had a major impact on their ability to find groups that match their interests; 28% say the internet has had a minor impact on that.
- 28% of these internet-using active group members say the internet has had a major impact on their ability to create their own groups; 28% say the internet has had a minor impact on that.
- 24% of these internet-using active group members say the internet has had a major impact on their ability to volunteer their time to groups; 40% say the internet has had a minor impact on that.
- 24% of these internet-using active group members say the internet has had a major impact on their ability to contribute money to groups; 34% say the internet has had a minor impact on that.
Many groups work hard to accomplish their goals but do not necessarily succeed in a modest amount of time. In the Pew Internet Project survey, respondents were asked about several kinds of outcomes and whether groups had achieved them in the previous 12 months. In some cases majorities or significant pluralities had accomplished their goals. For those that had achieved those outcomes, we then asked what role the internet played (if any) in achieving those goals. For those that did succeed, the internet’s role ranged from significant to modest:
On other internet impacts:
- 46% of the internet users who are active in groups say the internet has helped them be active in more groups than would otherwise be the case.
- 24% of those active in groups say they discovered at least some of their groups on the internet. However, three times that number of active group members (75%) did not discover any of the groups they belong to online.
- 23% of internet users say the technology allows them to spend more time with their groups; 70% of internet users report no impact of the internet on their time spent with groups.
Social media activities are taking hold in group activities
Groups and their members are using all kinds of digital tools to bind themselves together and some of the most innovative involve social networking sites like Facebook (used by 62% of the internet users in our survey), Twitter (used by 12% of internet users), blogs and texting (used by 74% of the cell phone owners in our survey):
- 48% of those who are active in groups say that those groups have a page on a social networking site like Facebook.
- 42% of those who are active in groups say those groups use text messaging.
- 30% of those who are active in groups say those groups have their own blog.
- 16% of those who are active in groups say the groups communicate with members through Twitter.
Group members themselves are often active in using social media to connect with the group and evangelize for the group with others. Some 65% of those who are social network site users say they read updates and messages on these sites about the groups in which they are active and 30% say they have posted news about their groups on their SNS page. The numbers are similar when it comes to Twitter users. Fully 63% of the Twitter users who are active in groups say they read updates and posts on Twitter about their groups, and 21% say they post news on Twitter about their groups. Some 45% of the texters who are active in groups say they send and receive texts with other group members and leaders.
Social network and Twitter users are also more active in some parts of group activity. They post about group activities on their Facebook pages and Tweets, they are more likely than others to invite newbies into a group, more likely than others to be targeted for invitation to groups, more likely to use the internet to discover groups, more likely to say the internet enables them to participate in more groups and more likely to say they spend more time on group activities because of the internet. Social media users are significantly more likely than other group participants who go online for group activities, to say that the internet has a “major impact” on their ability to engage with their groups.
Internet users are more active participants in their groups than other adults, and are more likely to feel pride and a sense of accomplishment
The survey asked group members whether they had done several core activities with their group in the past 30 days and internet users were significantly more likely to have done all of these activities.
Perhaps reflecting their higher levels of participation, internet users are also more likely than non-users to say that, in the past 12 months, they have felt really proud of a group they are active in because of something it accomplished or a positive difference it made (62% v. 47%) and that they have accomplished something as part of a group that they could not have accomplished themselves (48% v. 35%). Internet users and non-users are statistically equally likely to say that in the past 12 months they felt disappointed in a group they are active in because it failed to accomplish its goals or lacked purpose. Internet users are, however, slightly more likely to report leaving a group in the past 12 months.
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The Future of the Global Muslim Population
Projections for 2010-2030
The world’s Muslim population is expected to increase by about 35% in the next 20 years, rising from 1.6 billion in 2010 to 2.2 billion by 2030, according to new population projections by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life.
Globally, the Muslim population is forecast to grow at about twice the rate of the non-Muslim population over the next two decades — an average annual growth rate of 1.5% for Muslims, compared with 0.7% for non-Muslims. If current trends continue, Muslims will make up 26.4% of the world’s total projected population of 8.3 billion in 2030, up from 23.4% of the estimated 2010 world population of 6.9 billion.
While the global Muslim population is expected to grow at a faster rate than the non-Muslim population, the Muslim population nevertheless is expected to grow at a slower pace in the next two decades than it did in the previous two decades. From 1990 to 2010, the global Muslim population increased at an average annual rate of 2.2%, compared with the projected rate of 1.5% for the period from 2010 to 2030.
These are among the key findings of a comprehensive report on the size, distribution and growth of the global Muslim population. The report by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life seeks to provide up-to-date estimates of the number of Muslims around the world in 2010 and to project the growth of the Muslim population from 2010 to 2030. The projections are based both on past demographic trends and on assumptions about how these trends will play out in future years. Making these projections inevitably entails a host of uncertainties, including political ones. Changes in the political climate in the United States or European nations, for example, could dramatically affect the patterns of Muslim migration.
If current trends continue, however, 79 countries will have a million or more Muslim inhabitants in 2030, up from 72 countries today.1 A majority of the world’s Muslims (about 60%) will continue to live in the Asia-Pacific region, while about 20% will live in the Middle East and North Africa, as is the case today. But Pakistan is expected to surpass Indonesia as the country with the single largest Muslim population. The portion of the world’s Muslims living in sub-Saharan Africa is projected to rise; in 20 years, for example, more Muslims are likely to live in Nigeria than in Egypt. Muslims will remain relatively small minorities in Europe and the Americas, but they are expected to constitute a growing share of the total population in these regions.
In the United States, for example, the population projections show the number of Muslims more than doubling over the next two decades, rising from 2.6 million in 2010 to 6.2 million in 2030, in large part because of immigration and higher-than-average fertility among Muslims. The Muslim share of the U.S. population (adults and children) is projected to grow from 0.8% in 2010 to 1.7% in 2030, making Muslims roughly as numerous as Jews or Episcopalians are in the United States today. Although several European countries will have substantially higher percentages of Muslims, the United States is projected to have a larger number of Muslims by 2030 than any European country other than Russia and France. (See the Americas section of the full report for more details.)
In Europe as a whole, the Muslim share of the population is expected to grow by nearly one-third over the next 20 years, rising from 6% of the region’s inhabitants in 2010 to 8% in 2030. In absolute numbers, Europe’s Muslim population is projected to grow from 44.1 million in 2010 to 58.2 million in 2030. The greatest increases — driven primarily by continued migration — are likely to occur in Western and Northern Europe, where Muslims will be approaching double-digit percentages of the population in several countries. In the United Kingdom, for example, Muslims are expected to account for 8.2% of the population in 2030, up from an estimated 4.6% today. In Austria, Muslims are projected to reach 9.3% of the population in 2030, up from 5.7% today; in Sweden, 9.9% (up from 4.9% today); in Belgium, 10.2% (up from 6% today); and in France, 10.3% (up from 7.5% today). (See the Europe section of the full report for more details.)
Several factors account for the faster projected growth among Muslims than non-Muslims worldwide. Generally, Muslim populations tend to have higher fertility rates (more children per woman) than non-Muslim populations. In addition, a larger share of the Muslim population is in, or soon will enter, the prime reproductive years (ages 15-29). Also, improved health and economic conditions in Muslim-majority countries have led to greater-than-average declines in infant and child mortality rates, and life expectancy is rising even faster in Muslim-majority countries than in other less-developed countries. (See the section on Main Factors Driving Population Growth in the full report for more details. For a list of Muslim-majority countries and definitions for the terms less- and more-developed, see the section on Muslim- Majority Countries.)
Growing, But at a Slower Rate
The growth of the global Muslim population, however, should not obscure another important demographic trend: the rate of growth among Muslims has been slowing in recent decades and is likely to continue to decline over the next 20 years, as the graph below shows. From 1990 to 2000, the Muslim population grew at an average annual rate of 2.3%. The growth rate dipped to 2.1% from 2000 to 2010, and it is projected to drop to 1.7% from 2010 to 2020 and 1.4% from 2020 to 2030 (or 1.5% annually over the 20-year period from 2010 to 2030, as previously noted).
The declining growth rate is due primarily to falling fertility rates in many Muslim-majority countries, including such populous nations as Indonesia and Bangladesh. Fertility is dropping as more women in these countries obtain a secondary education, living standards rise and people move from rural areas to cities and towns. (See the Related Factors section in the full report for more details.)
The slowdown in Muslim population growth is most pronounced in the Asia-Pacific region, the Middle East-North Africa and Europe, and less sharp in sub-Saharan Africa. The only region where Muslim population growth is accelerating through 2020 is the Americas, largely because of immigration. (For details, see the charts on population growth in the sections of this report onAsia-Pacific, Middle-East-North Africa, sub-Saharan Africa, Europe and the Americas.)
Falling birth rates eventually will lead to significant shifts in the age structure of Muslim populations. While the worldwide Muslim population today is relatively young, the so-called Muslim “youth bulge” — the high percentage of Muslims in their teens and 20s — peaked around the year 2000 and is now declining. (See the Age Structure section of the full report for more details.)
In 1990, more than two-thirds of the total population of Muslim-majority countries was under age 30. Today, people under age 30 make up about 60% of the population of these countries, and by 2030 they are projected to fall to about 50%.
At the same time, many Muslim-majority countries will have aging populations; between 2010 and 2030, the share of people ages 30 and older in these countries is expected to rise from 40% to 50%, and the share of people ages 60 and older is expected nearly to double, from 7% to 12%. Muslim-majority countries, however, are not the only ones with aging populations. As birth rates drop and people live longer all around the globe, the population of the entire world is aging. As a result, the global Muslim population will remain comparatively youthful for decades to come. The median age in Muslim-majority countries, for example, rose from 19 in 1990 to 24 in 2010 and is expected to climb to 30 by 2030. But it will still be lower than the median age in North America, Europe and other more-developed regions, which rose from age 34 to 40 between 1990 and 2010 and is projected to be age 44 in 2030. By that year, nearly three-in-ten of the world’s youth and young adults — 29.1% of people ages 15-29 — are projected to be Muslims, up from 25.8% in 2010 and 20.0% in 1990.
Other key findings of the study include:
• Sunni Muslims will continue to make up an overwhelming majority of Muslims in 2030 (87%- 90%). The portion of the world’s Muslims who are Shia may decline slightly, largely because of relatively low fertility in Iran, where more than a third of the world’s Shia Muslims live.
• As of 2010, about three-quarters of the world’s Muslims (74.1%) live in the 49 countries in which Muslims make up a majority of the population. More than a fifth of all Muslims (23.3%) live in non-Muslim-majority countries in the developing world. About 3% of the world’s Muslims live in more-developed regions, such as Europe, North America, Australia, New Zealand and Japan.
• Fertility rates in Muslim-majority countries are closely related to women’s education levels. In the eight Muslim-majority countries where girls generally receive the fewest years of schooling, the average fertility rate (5.0 children per woman) is more than double the average rate (2.3 children per woman) in the nine Muslim-majority countries where girls generally receive the most years of schooling. One exception is the Palestinian territories, where the average fertility rate (4.5 children per woman) is relatively high even though a girl born there today can expect to receive 14 years of formal education.
• Fewer than half (47.8%) of married women ages 15-49 in Muslim-majority countries use some form of birth control. By comparison, in non-Muslim-majority, less-developed countries nearly two-thirds (63.3%) of all married women in that age group use some form of birth control.
• Nearly three-in-ten people living in the Asia-Pacific region in 2030 (27.3%) will be Muslim, up from about a quarter in 2010 (24.8%) and roughly a fifth in 1990 (21.6%).
• Muslims make up only about 2% of the population in China, but because the country is so populous, its Muslim population is expected to be the 19th largest in the world in 2030.
Middle East-North Africa
• The Middle East-North Africa will continue to have the highest percentage of Muslim-majority countries. Of the 20 countries and territories in this region, all but Israel are projected to be at least 50% Muslim in 2030, and 17 are expected to have a population that is more than 75% Muslim in 2030, with Israel, Lebanon and Sudan (as currently demarcated) being the only exceptions.
• Nearly a quarter (23.2%) of Israel’s population is expected to be Muslim in 2030, up from 17.7% in 2010 and 14.1% in 1990. During the past 20 years, the Muslim population in Israel has more than doubled, growing from 0.6 million in 1990 to 1.3 million in 2010. The Muslim population in Israel (including Jerusalem but not the West Bank and Gaza) is expected to reach 2.1 million by 2030.
• Egypt, Algeria and Morocco currently have the largest Muslim populations (in absolute numbers) in the Middle East-North Africa. By 2030, however, Iraq is expected to have the second-largest Muslim population in the region — exceeded only by Egypt — largely because Iraq has a higher fertility rate than Algeria or Morocco.
• The Muslim population in sub-Saharan Africa is projected to grow by nearly 60% in the next 20 years, from 242.5 million in 2010 to 385.9 million in 2030. Because the region’s non- Muslim population also is growing at a rapid pace, Muslims are expected to make up only a slightly larger share of the region’s population in 2030 (31.0%) than they do in 2010 (29.6%).
• Various surveys give differing figures for the size of religious groups in Nigeria, which appears to have roughly equal numbers of Muslims and Christians in 2010. By 2030, Nigeria is expected to have a slight Muslim majority (51.5%).
• 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%).
• Russia will continue to have the largest Muslim population (in absolute numbers) in Europe in 2030. Its Muslim population is expected to rise from 16.4 million in 2010 to 18.6 million in 2030. The growth rate for the Muslim population in Russia 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 period.
• France had an expected net influx of 66,000 Muslim immigrants in 2010, primarily from North Africa. Muslims accounted for an estimated two-thirds (68.5%) of all new immigrants to France in the past year. Spain was expected to see a net gain of 70,000 Muslim immigrants in 2010, but they account for a much smaller portion of all new immigrants to Spain (13.1%). The U.K.’s net inflow of Muslim immigrants in the past year (nearly 64,000) was forecast to be nearly as large as France’s. More than a quarter (28.1%) of all new immigrants to the U.K. in 2010 are estimated to be Muslim.
• 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 are expected to make up 6.6% of Canada’s total population in 2030, up from 2.8% today. Argentina is expected to have the third-largest Muslim population in the Americas, after the U.S. and Canada. Argentina, with about 1 million Muslims in 2010, is now in second place, behind the U.S.
• 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 group. 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. If current trends continue, the numbers of U.S. Muslims under age 15 will more than triple, from fewer than 500,000 in 2010 to 1.8 million in2030. 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.
• About two-thirds of the Muslims in the U.S. today (64.5%) are first-generation immigrants (foreign-born), while slightly more than a third (35.5%) were born in the U.S. By 2030, however, more than four-in-ten of the Muslims in the U.S. (44.9%) are expected to be native-born.
• The top countries of origin for Muslim immigrants to the U.S. in 2009 were Pakistan and Bangladesh. They are expected to remain the top countries of origin for Muslim immigrants to the U.S. in 2030.
About the Report
This report makes demographic projections. Projections are not the same as predictions. Rather, they are estimates built on current population data and assumptions about demographic trends; they are what will happen if the current data are accurate and the trends play out as expected. But many things — immigration laws, economic conditions, natural disasters, armed conflicts, scientific discoveries, social movements and political upheavals, to name just a few — can shift demographic trends in unforeseen ways, which is why this report adheres to a modest time frame, looking just 20 years down the road. Even so, there is no guarantee that Muslim populations will grow at precisely the rates anticipated in this report and not be affected by unforeseen events, such as political decisions on immigration quotas or national campaigns to encourage larger or smaller families.
The projections presented in this report are the medium figures in a range of three scenarios — high, medium and low — generated from models commonly used by demographers around the world to forecast changes in population size and composition. The models follow what is known as the cohort-component method, which starts with a baseline population (in this case, the current number of Muslims in each country) divided into groups, or cohorts, by age and sex. Each cohort is projected into the future by adding likely gains — new births and immigrants — and subtracting likely losses – deaths and emigrants. These calculations were made by the Pew Forum’s demographers, who collaborated with researchers at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in Austria on the projections for the United States and European countries. (For more details, see Appendix A: Methodology.)
The current population data that underpin this report were culled from the best sources available on Muslims in each of the 232 countries and territories for which the U.N. Population Division provides general population estimates. Many of these baseline statistics were published in the Pew Forum’s 2009 report, Mapping the Global Muslim Population, which acquired and analyzed about 1,500 sources of data — including census reports, large-scale demographic studies and general population surveys — to estimate the number of Muslims in every country and territory. (For a list of sources, see Appendix B: Data Sources by Country.)
All of those estimates have been updated for 2010, and some have been substantially revised. (To find the current estimate and projections for a particular region or country, see Muslim Population by Country, 1990-2030.) Since many countries are conducting national censuses in 2010-11, more data are likely to emerge over the next few years, but a cut-off must be made at some point; this report is based on information available as of mid-2010. To the extent possible, the report provides data for decennial years — 1990, 2000, 2010, 2020 and 2030. In some cases, however, the time periods vary because data is available only for certain years or in five-year increments (e.g., 2010-15 or 2030-35).
The definition of Muslim in this report is very broad. The goal is to count all groups and individuals who self-identify as Muslims. This includes Muslims who may be secular or nonobservant. No attempt is made in this report to measure how religious Muslims are or to forecast levels of religiosity (or secularism) in the decades ahead.