The overall Muslim population of Europe could be as high as 75 million by 2050, with over 13 million Muslims in the UK, according to new research.
A study by the Pew Research Center concluded that the Muslim population of Europe is set to significantly rise as the continent’s non-Muslim population falls.
This is because Muslims are younger (by 13 years on average) and have higher fertility (one child more per woman on average) than other Europeans.
Pew estimates that there are currently 25.8 million Muslims in Europe and even if all migration were to immediately stop the Muslim population of Europe would still be expected to rise to 35.8 million by 2050.
A second, “medium” migration scenario assumes that all refugee flows will stop as of mid-2016 but that recent levels of “regular” migration to Europe will continue. Under these conditions, Muslims could reach 57.9 million of Europe’s population in 2050.
Finally, a “high” migration scenario projects the record flow of refugees into Europe between 2014 and 2016 to continue indefinitely into the future in addition to the typical annual flow of regular migrants. In this scenario, Muslims could make up 75.6 million of Europe’s population by 2050 – nearly triple the current share, but still considerably smaller than the populations of both Christians and people with no religion in Europe.
According to this projection, the Muslim population of the UK could rise to somewhere between 6.5-13.5 million.
Currently France and Germany have the largest Muslim populations in Europe. As of mid-2016, there were 5.7 million Muslims in France (8.8% of the country’s population) and 5 million Muslims in Germany (6.1%).
Between mid-2010 and mid-2016, migration was the biggest factor driving the growth of Muslim populations in Europe. An estimated 2.5 million Muslims came to Europe for reasons other than seeking asylum, such as for employment or to go to school.
About 1.3 million more Muslims received (or are expected to receive) refugee status, allowing them to remain in Europe. An estimated 250,000 Muslims left the region during this period.
Among European Muslims, there were 2.9 million more births than deaths during this period. Religious switching is estimated to be a small factor in Muslim population change, with roughly 160,000 more people switching away from Islam than converting into the faith during this period.
Conrad Hackett, a demographer focusing on religion at Pew Research Center, said: “Muslims are a relatively small minority in Europe, making up roughly 5% of the population. However, in some countries, such as France and Sweden, the Muslim share of the population is higher. And, in the coming decades, the Muslim share of the continent’s population is expected to grow – and could more than double, according to Pew Research Center projections.
“These demographic shifts have already led to political and social upheavals in many European countries, especially in the wake of the recent arrival of millions of asylum seekers, many of whom are Muslims. In recent national elections in France and Germany, for instance, immigration — and particularly Muslim immigration — were top issues.”