The Coming Muslim Century: Bad news for President Bannon

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

Demographically, the 21st century will be the Muslim Century, as the Pew Research Center on Religion in Public Life has shown. Muslims will go from 24% of the world’s population today to 31% by 2060. I.e. they will equal the Christian population of the world by that date. And then they will outstrip the Christians by 2100.

Pew writes:

“Between 2015 and 2060, the world’s population is expected to increase by 32%, to 9.6 billion. Over that same period, the number of Muslims – the major religious group with the youngest population and the highest fertility – is projected to increase by 70%. The number of Christians is projected to rise by 34%, slightly faster than the global population overall yet far more slowly than Muslims.”

PF_17.04.05_projectionsUpdate_GRL310px h/t Pew Research Center.

Most of the increase will occur because of population growth where people live. Africans will be a larger proportion of the world’s population in 2060 they they are now. In fact, over the next century, the African population could quadruple, and 40% of the human population could be African by 2100. Muslims in Africa will form a larger proportion of the world Muslim population, while the Middle East will remain stable with about a fifth of the world’s Muslims. Nigeria could go to 900 million over the century, coming to dwarf the European Union and equaling a shrinking China by 2100.

Some countries will be deeply affected by these changes. The Russian Federation will go from 11% Muslim in 2010 to at least 33% Muslim in 2060. The future of Muslims in Europe depends in part on immigration policy (most of Western Europe is not reproducing itself, and so Europe will get old and less dynamic if it decides against immigration). The European Union could remain steady at about 500 million, but I suspect that projection takes immigration into account.

The publisher of Time magazine, Henry Luce, called the twentieth century “The American Century.” It was an apt description. The US had half the world’s GDP just after WW II and even in 1999 it had nearly a quarter. It was the main world center of technological innovation, and has an enormous military-industrial establishment probably costing $1 trillion a year, dwarfing that of all the other countries of the world.

It isn’t clear whether the Muslim world will have that kind of economic clout. China and Hindu-majority India will be the two largest countries and may well have the two largest economies. But China’s population may fall and age, which could be an economic challenge.

Prejudice against Muslims has grown by leaps and bounds in the United States, and hatred of Muslims played a role in Trump’s campaign and in the policies he tried to enact once elected. Not all Americans are bigoted toward Muslims, and most understand that you can’t blame 1.8 billion Muslims for the violence and extremism of a tiny fringe. The Neo-Nazis and their slightly less illiterate fellow travelers over at Breitbart froth at the mouth on this issue. I am sorry to say that Evangelical Christians are according to opinion polls pretty hateful in this regard, much moreso than the general population (they are also the most enthusiastic supporters of Trump, which makes me think a lot of them are dressing up white supremacy as Christianity). The Zionist right wing seems to think if only you can badmouth Muslims enough, no one will mind if you steal all the remaining land owned by Palestinians in the West Bank. And, a small sliver of the US left, exemplified by Bill Maher, hates Muslims almost as much as they hate Evangelicals and Republicans.

Despite White House chief strategist Steve Bannon’s impractical dreams, there is no prospect that government policy or other measures can kickstart population growth among the “white” population, whatever that is. Middle class people tend to have smaller families. They want to enjoy some leisure, and be sure to be able to send their children to college.

The only proven antidote to shrinking populations is immigration. Countries like Japan that are allergic to letting a lot of immigrants in will simply shrink, that is all, and will have a very large number of old people. Countries that welcome immigrants, as France traditionally has, will grow and be economically vibrant.

So to sum up, Muslims will go from a fourth of humankind to a third just in the next 43 years. They will then likely go on up to 38% or 40% during the rest of the century. That is, a plurality of human beings in 2100 could well be Muslim. Since growing populations will be increasingly rare, countries will prize young, dynamic Muslim immigrants and will compete for them. Those countries that lose out and just can’t get Muslims to move there will get small and old and stagnant. Islamophobia may have a future. Islamophobes do not.

21 Responses

  1. This will cause dread and fear in the evil hearts of islamaphobes. It is sad that millions of Muslims have been killed in these recent wars waged by the US and it’s allies, and no one, not even some Arab nations are outraged by this. In fact some of them even join in these wars for their own devious reasons. Muslim lives do not matter when it comes to the US and it’s allies. This is an interesting study.

  2. A global population of 9.6 billion by 2060 is bad news for the planet, no matter what religions or ethnic groups comprise that population.

    In 1911, the year my father was born, global population was only about 1.7 billion. It was not until 1927 that Earth’s human population reached 2 billion.

    • Thomas – If the species makes it to 2060, religions will still be used to divide what remains of the depleted planet, on the MENU. The population will drop according to taste.

    • They can not succeed – another waste of energy, time and money by trump and the republicans.

  3. Your economic thinking is stuck in a 20th century mindset, I’m afraid. Somehwat counterintuitively, given the (already in progress) massive loss of jobs to automation and robotics, places like Japan and Europe, with a shrinking but highly-educated workforce, are better positioned to handle the resulting unemployment crisis. Bringing in more unskilled immigrants would just mean more unemployment and therefore social untest. They already have trouble finding enough work for their native-born population.

    A nice side effect will be a reduction in the the massive overcrowding of both places, allowing space for both people and nature to breath, thrive and live humanely, rather than piled on top of each other as in an anthill.

    The lack of birth control in the muslim world is a serious problem, I agree, but it is not an economic boon to anyone.

  4. The more people say President Bannon, the more Trump’s infantile jealousy will kick in, and maybe he’ll eventually really boot out President Bannon…..who is still running things….together with Vice President Steven Miller….

  5. An enlightened author I read several decades ago – he may have been Peter J. Drucker, then known as the father of modern management – said that any projections beyond five years should not be taken seriously. He cited numerous technological developments that were on the market then but very, very few people anticipated or heard of in the recent past.

    • Human demographics, being based on the actions of hundreds of millions, is very different than predicting individual technologies. Whites have known for over 50 years that they would become a minority in some vague, slowly approaching future – that’s why we’ve had the waves of politics we’ve had since 1960. It’s like the 7 Stages of Acceptance, except acceptance might not be the outcome.

      • Remember Paul Ehlich’s best-seller, circa 1970, The Population Bomb?

        Demographics trends are real, but reading them, and seeing the chemistry of the world unfolding just as forcast…fugetabutit.

  6. “And, a small sliver of the US left, exemplified by Bill Maher, hates Muslims almost as much as they hate Evangelicals and Republicans.”

    Does Bill Maher believe in progressive taxation? Does he believe in income redistribution? He’s called himself libertarian previously. I can’t see how Bill Maher can fit into the tent of the left.

  7. And then they will outstrip the Christians by 2100.

    Given the disregard of climate change among so many capitalists pathologically predisposed to greed and a mixture of low levels of intelligence and ever-increasing powers of weapons of mass destruction what are chances of this planet lasting until 2100?

    • There are a LOT of people that are “christian ” in name only. That is, they do not actually practice any religion on a daily or even a yearly basis.

      The LDS church keeps very detailed member records and in a typical ward (congregation), as many as 35% of the people listed on the member records are inactive. Note that this is after very aggressive attempts to get them active.

      This “christian in name only” situation is why the republicans could become more centrist and ignore the very minor christian conservatives if they wanted to. The christian conservatives do NOT have the numbers they claim to have.

  8. “The only proven antidote to shrinking populations is immigration. Countries like Japan that are allergic to letting a lot of immigrants in will simply shrink, that is all, and will have a very large number of old people. Countries that welcome immigrants, as France traditionally has, will grow and be economically vibrant.”

    I think I read about Japan using robotics as a possible solution to the demographic problem of low birth rates and no immigration to overcome the future lack of workers it will have. I have a pro-tech bias, so I think it can and probably will work. Japanese things, electronics, and robotics are all things I’m way into! There are already robot caretakers for the elderly in development, so lots more of the Japanese can be robots to supplement for any lack of human workers.

  9. Assuming we will still have a livable planet in a hundred years, which is questionable, and assuming population growth as predicted, I wonder if one can assume that the offspring of the various religions will continue to adopt the faith of their parents.

  10. Christianity has become somewhat like the Roman religion in the period prior to Constantine, that is it has largely lost its true believers although many still subscribe to the formalities, attending baptisms, weddings and funerals with reverential faces, listening quietly to exhortations from the pulpit, and being relieved when the whole thing is over. My hunch is that as the percentage of Muslims rises for the reasons outlined here, it will be further increased by young white converts who will be attracted to the greater spiritual vigour of its rituals, and what will strike them as the absence of hypocrisy among its faithful.

  11. The article predicts, “The Russian Federation will go from 11% Muslim in 2010 to at least 33% Muslim in 2060.” This, of course, assumes the absence of a genocide by the Russian right.

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