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Pew Forum demographer Conrad Hackett said the 2,500 censuses, surveys and population registers used to compile the report did not allow a further breakdown to estimate the world population of atheists and agnostics.
“It’s not the kind of data that’s available for every country,” he said. “A census will typically ask what your religion is and you can identify a number of particular affiliations or no religion.
An age breakdown showed Muslims had the lowest median age at 23 years, compared to 28 for the whole world population. The median age highlights the population bulge at the point where half the population is above and half below that number.
“Muslims are going to grow as a share of the world’s population and an important part of that is this young age structure,” Hackett said.
By contrast, Judaism, which has 14 million adherents or 0.2 percent of the world population, has the highest median age at 36, meaning its growth prospects are weakest.
Hackett noted that Israel, which has 40.5 percent of the world Jewish population, had a younger age structure than the United States, where 41.1 percent of the world’s Jews live.
Global Christianity’s median age is 30 and Hinduism’s 26. With a median age of 34, the growth prospects for religiously unaffiliated people are weak, the study showed.
The study estimated Christianity was the largest faith at 2.2 billion adherents or 31.5 percent of the world’s population.
The Roman Catholic Church makes up 50 percent of that total, with Protestants – including Anglicans and non-denominational churches – at 37 percent and Orthodox at 12 percent.