An international study of demographic trends shows that Europe’s Christian population is expected to shrink by about 100 million people in the coming decades, dropping from 553 million in 2010 to 454 million in 2050.
While Christians will remain the largest religious group in Europe, they are projected to drop from three-quarters of the population to less than two-thirds.
By 2050, nearly a quarter of Europeans (23 per cent) are expected to have no religious affiliation, and Muslims will make up about 10 per cent of the region’s population, up from 5.9 per cent in 2010.
The figures have been published by the Washington-based Pew Research Center.
They show that in the five years 2010 to 2015, deaths outnumbered births among Christians in 24 out of 42 European countries in a pattern that is set to continue. In Germany alone, there were an estimated 1.4 million more Christian deaths than births in the five year period.
Eight European countries, including Ireland, however, bucked the trend with increases of at least 10,000 in births over deaths in each case. The other seven countries were France, Spain, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Poland, Norway, and Finland.
In contrast, among Muslims there was no European country where the number of deaths exceeded births over the same five year period. In Germany, the UK, Italy, Russia and France, there were at least 250,000 more Muslim births than deaths in each country over the period.
The lower average age of Muslims in Europe – 33 as opposed to 43 for Christians – is said to be a factor along with higher fertility rates.