Washington, D.C. — A new, comprehensive demographic study of more than 230 countries and territories conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life finds that more than eight-in-ten people worldwide identify with a religious group. The report estimates that there are 5.8 billion religiously affiliated adults and children around the globe, representing 84% of the 2010 world population of 6.9 billion.
The study also finds that the median age of two major groups – Muslims (23 years) and Hindus (26) – is younger than the world’s overall population (28), while Jews have the highest median age (36) of the groups studied.
- Report overview
- Full report pdf (81 pages)
- Religious composition by country
Based on analysis of more than 2,500 censuses, surveys and population registers,** the study finds 2.2 billion Christians (32% of the world’s population), 1.6 billion Muslims (23%), 1 billion Hindus (15%), nearly 500 million Buddhists (7%) and 14 million Jews (0.2%) around the world as of 2010. In addition, more than 400 million people (6%) practice various folk or traditional religions, including African traditional religions, Chinese folk religions, Native American religions and Australian aboriginal religions. An estimated 58 million people – slightly less than 1% of the global population – belong to other religions, including the Baha’i faith, Jainism, Sikhism, Shintoism, Taoism, Tenrikyo, Wicca and Zoroastrianism, to mention just a few.
At the same time, the new study also finds that roughly one-in-six people around the globe (1.1 billion, or 16%) have no religious affiliation. This makes the unaffiliated the third-largest religious group worldwide, behind Christians and Muslims, and about equal in size to the world’s Catholic population. Surveys indicate that many of the unaffiliated hold some religious or spiritual beliefs (such as belief in God or a universal spirit) even though they do not identify with a particular faith.
These are some of the key findings of “The Global Religious Landscape: A Report on the Size and Distribution of the World’s Major Religious Groups as of 2010.” This effort is part of the Pew-Templeton Global Religious Futures project, which analyzes religious change and its impact on societies around the world. The project is jointly and generously funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts and the John Templeton Foundation.
* The primary researchers for “The Global Religious Landscape: A Report on the Size and Distribution of the World’s Major Religions as of 2010” are Pew Forum demographer Conrad Hackett and senior researcher Brian J. Grim, the Pew Forum’s director of cross-national data. They received valuable research assistance from research analyst Noble Kuriakose and other Pew Forum staffers listed on the masthead of the report. We are also indebted to our colleagues at IIASA, Marcin Stonawski, Vegard Skirbekk and Michaela Potančoková, and to Guy Abel at the Vienna Institute of Demography. (While the data collection and analysis were guided by the Pew Forum's collaborators, the Pew Forum is solely responsible for the interpretation and reporting of the data.)
** In cases where censuses and surveys lacked sufficient detail on minority groups, the estimates also drew on estimates provided by the World Religion Database, which takes into account other sources of information on religious affiliation, including statistical reports from religious groups themselves.