India’s religious makeup has remained largely stable as fertility rates have declined across all religious groups
The religious makeup of India’s population has remained largely stable since independence, with fertility rates falling across all religious groups, according to a Pew Research Center study. The fertility rate is the number of children a woman would have on average during her lifetime. There has been a significant decline in fertility rates across all religious groups, with Muslims recording the largest decline. As a result, population growth rates have also declined in all religions. The fertility rates of religious groups have, in fact, converged over time. Another recent study by Pew suggests that religious conversion had little effect on the makeup of the population.
98% said ^ that they currently identify with the same religion in which they were raised, emphasizing the minimal impact of religious conversion.
The population growth rate of Muslims fell from 32.7% in 1951-61 to 24.7% in 2001-11. During the same periods, the growth rate of the Hindu population increased from 20.7% to 16.7%.
Decreased fertility levels
The graph illustrates the sharp drop in fertility rates in religious groups. The largest decline was recorded among Muslims. In addition, the gap in fertility levels between religions has narrowed. In 1992, a Muslim woman gave birth on average to 1.1 more children than a Hindu. However, in 2015 this difference was reduced to 0.5.
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Minimal change in composition
The graph illustrates the evolution of India’s religious makeup between 1951 and 2011. There have been only modest changes in the overall religious makeup of the population over the 60-year period.
Stable even at 2050
According to Pew Research Center population projections for 2050, Hindus will account for 77% of India’s total population (a decrease of 2% from 2020) and the share of Muslims will increase by 3% to reach 18% in 2050 ).
Impact of conversion
While the fertility rate has been the main driver of the change in the composition of the population, another study from the Pew Report indicates that religious conversion had no impact on demographic change. Only 0.7% of Hindus said they were raised Hindus but identified with another religion, while 0.8% said they were not raised Hindu but now identified as Hindus. This suggests that there has been little movement inside and outside of religious groups.
^ PEW poll released June 29, 2021
Source: Religious Composition of India, Pew Research Center
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