A previous analysis by the Weekly Number finds that the 12 countries identified in the study as having very high religious diversity each outpaced the world's economic growth between 2008 and 2012.
Singapore has the most diverse mixture of the eight major religious groups counted in the Pew study: Buddhists (34%), Christians (18%), unaffiliated (16%), Muslims (14%), other religions (10%), Hindus (5%), folk religionists (2%) and Jews (<1%). (See chart below.)
Most of Singapore’s religious diversity is attributable to past and present immigration from other Asian countries. For instance, a previous Pew Research study found that Singapore’s religious diversity is mirrored in the religious diversity of its approximately 2 million foreign-born residents: Buddhists (31%), religiously unaffiliated (18%), Christians (17%), Muslims (14%), Hindus (10%), other religions (10%).
The study groups countries into four categories of religious diversity: very high (top 5%), high (next 16%), moderate (next 20%), and low (remaining 59%).
HIGH: Religious diversity is high in 36 countries. The Pew study finds that nearly eight-in-ten countries with high religious diversity are located in one of three regions: Asia-Pacific (10 countries), sub-Saharan Africa (9) or Europe (9). In France, for instance, though the Christian population forms a majority (63%), sizable populations of the religiously unaffiliated (28%) and Muslims (8%) are also present.
MODERATE religious diversity occurs in 47 countries. Regionally, the Pew study finds that Europe has the largest number of countries with moderate religious diversity (19). The Asia-Pacific region and sub-Saharan Africa each have nine countries with moderate diversity. Two of the five countries in North America have moderate religious diversity, including the United States. The United States has moderate religious diversity when considering the eight religious groups analyzed in the Pew study because Christians constitute a sizable majority (78%) of the 2010 population. The only others that make up a substantial share of the population are the religiously unaffiliated (16%). The remaining major religious groups in the U.S. are represented in only small percentages: Jews (1.8%), Buddhists (1.2%), Muslims (0.9%), other religions (0.6%), Hindus (0.6%) and Folk (0.2%). However, if diversity among Christians is considered, religious diversity would be higher. The U.S. is about half Protestant, nearly a quarter Catholic and 16% religiously unaffiliated.
LOW religious diversity occurs in 137 countries. The Pew study finds that each region has a sizable share of countries with low religious diversity. Indeed, more than half of countries with low religious diversity are in two regions: Latin America-Caribbean (36 countries) and Asia-Pacific (35). However, the Middle East-North Africa region stands for having the overall lowest level of religious diversity because it has the highest concentration of one religion, Islam. In Egypt, for instance, Muslims account for nearly the entire population (up to 95%).*
* The Pew Research estimate is lower than church statistics. See Pew's comments on the issue.