Dramatic religious shifts over the next few decades will change the distribution of wealth around the globe, according to a new study by the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation.
During this period, notes the study, the number of people affiliated with a religion is expected to grow by 2.3 billion, from 5.8 billion in 2010 to 8.1 billion in 2050. The growth in religious populations will also be combined with religious diversity, which will change the makeup of the world economies:
The growth of religious populations also has implications for how the world’s wealth will be spread about. The economic transformations of China and India are common knowledge. But, what is less well known is that the five leading economies of 2050 are projected to represent one of the most religiously diverse groupings in recent memory. For instance, today, seven of the G8 nations have Christian majority populations. But by 2050 only one of the five leading economies is projected to have a majority Christian population – the United States. The other mega economies in 2050 are projected to include a country with a Hindu majority (India), a Muslim majority (Indonesia), and two with exceptionally high levels of religious diversity (China and Japan).
A major reason for the shift, researcher Brian Grim told Christianity Today, is that many majority-Christian nations are already economically established:
They could grow more quickly if “they began at a lower starting point,” Grim told CT. “Additionally, much of the Christian growth in the next decades will be in Africa, from primarily demographic growth, though also some conversion. [By 2050], about half of Christians will live in sub-Saharan Africa. While those economies are beginning at a lower point, they aren’t expected by economic forecasters to grow as fast as the economies in Asia.”