The Muslim population in some European countries could triple by 2050 while it will barely change in others, according to new projections. The projections were in a report titled “Europe’s Growing Muslim Population” released on Wednesday night by the Washington-based Pew Research Centre, reports the Guardian. The report shows a stark west-east divide. The Muslim share of Germany’s population could grow from 6.1 per cent in 2016 to 19.7 per cent in 2050 if high migration continues, whereas over the border Poland’s share would change from 0.1 per cent to 0.2 per cent in the same scenario. Even if all current 28 European Union (EU) members, plus Norway and Switzerland, closed their borders to migrants, the Muslim population share in the west would continue to grow owing to a younger age profile and higher fertility rates, but remain very low in the east.
According to Pew’s data, Muslims made up 4.9 per cent of Europe’s population in 2016, with an estimated 25.8 million people across 30 countries, up from 19.5 million people in 2010. The number of Muslim migrants arriving in Europe surged after 2014 to almost half a million annually, largely due to people fleeing conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Researchers considered three scenarios for the increase: zero migration between 2016 and 2050; medium migration, in which the flow of refugees stops but people continue to migrate for other reasons; and high migration, in which the record flow of migrants between 2014 and 2016 continues indefinitely with the same religious composition.
Apart from migration, the number of Muslims in Europe is set to grow considerably through natural increases, the Guardian quoted the report as saying. Europe’s Muslims have more children than members of other religious groups, or people of no religion, the study showed. The European average fertility rate is 2.6 for Muslims compared to 1.6 for non-Muslims. The Muslim population is also much younger than non-Muslims. The proportion of Muslims under the age of 15 is 27 per cent, nearly double the proportion of under-15 non-Muslims at 15 per cent.