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However, it is worth emphasizing that electricity intensity throughout the world has not been declining. Consequently, the growth of electricity has been outpacing the rate of economic growth in all regions in recent years. This is relevant to the discussion of trends in electricity production in the subsection that follows.

In contrast, the earlier transition from traditional biomass fuels to fossil fuels had the opposite effect, despite an associated reduction in carbon intensity. The reasons are discussed in footnote 3. In the three decades before , the carbon intensity ofthe global economy—in kilograms of carbon kgC per U. This reduction is equivalent to an average annual decline in carbon intensity of approximately 1. More recently, however, the rate of decline in carbon intensity has begun to slow and even reverse.

Globally, carbon intensity per dollar of economic output has increased at a rate of approximately 0. Despite global warming concerns, higher prices and concern about the long-term supply of oil and natural gas are likely to prompt increased utilization of coal and unconventional oil resources e. This could substantially increase the carbon intensity of the global energy supply mix. Indeed, this may already be occurring to some extent. Based on the historic rate of energy de-carbonization, this process could take 80 years to unfold in the absence of further policy interventions.

It could take even longer if rising prices and oil and natural gas supply constraints, coupled with a lack of cost-competitive non-fossil-fuel alternatives, create countervailing pressures to move to more carbon-intensive fuels like coal. It is characterized by a proliferation of end-use technologies that rely on a diversity of fuels to generate electricity.

It suggests that production of electricity by developing countries will nearly triple during the next 25 years. Non-hydropower renewables are expected to increase their share of the total electricity supply mix from roughly one percent to four percent during that period. Overall, however, coal will continue to dominate and account for roughly half of the total production of electricity by developing countries in Of course, the IEA projections do not account for the effect of new policies that might be introduced to address climate change and other concerns during the decades ahead.

Figure 4 Electricity generation in developing countries: IEA reference case forecast. This acceleration must take place globally. It cannot be restricted to the developed countries, but must be pursued with equal or even greater vigor in developing countries. The result has been a clear link in many countries between rising incomes and an increase in emphasis on environmental performance. Over time, energy end-use technologies e. It is the improved cooking stove. The use of such traditional fuels as wood and dung for cooking is inefficient and generates extremely high levels of indoor pollution.

Accelerating the transition to more expensive, but far cleaner kerosene, liquefied petroleum gas LPG , or electric stoves, would dramatically reduce the exposure to unhealthy levels of particulate pollution in many developing countries, particularly among women and children. Other sectors that offer great opportunities to reduce conventional levels of air pollutant emissions and to improve public health are transport and electricity production. More stringent pollution control requirements for automobiles, heavy-duty vehicles and equipment and power plants, in particular, would substantially improve air quality.

A good example is the use of natural gas for the production of electricity. This became increasingly common in the United States in the s. One reason is that natural gas plants do not require the same pollution controls that coal-fired plants do e. This has helped them to become competitive with coal-fired power stations in many countries that regulate conventional pollutant emissions.

Some conventional pollutants, such as black carbon, directly contribute to global warming. In those cases, conventional emission controls can provide automatic climate co-benefits. In other cases, the relationship is more complicated. For example, sulfur particles have a cooling effect on the atmosphere. In general, most post-combustion conventional-pollutant control technologies do not reduce the emissions of carbon dioxide, the chief greenhouse gas. Moreover, agreements to reduce or control emissions that could disrupt global climate systems have proved to be difficult to negotiate.

The challenge for developing countries is greatly complicated by the need to expand access to essential energy services and to simultaneously provide low-cost energy for economic development. Yet, stark inequalities persist throughout the world in the access to modern energy services. In , the non-OECD countries accounted for just over half 52 percent of global primary energy consumption.

This increase in energy consumption has not, however, resulted in a more equitable access to energy services on a per capita basis.

the world in the next 200 years

The inequities in per capita use of electricity are even greater than the inequities in per capita use of primary energy. In , the average citizen in the OECD countries used 8, kwh of electricity. In contrast, the average citizen in China used 1, kwh and the per capita average for the rest of Asia was kwh. The per capita average use of electricity in in Latin America and Africa were 1, kwh and kwh respectively.

This means that the number of people throughout the world who had no access to electricity has hardly changed in absolute terms since UNDP, , p. Not surprisingly, the rural poor in developing countries account for the vast majority nearly 90 percent of households that have no access to electricity.

In fact, providing safe, clean, reliable and affordable energy to those who currently have no access to such is widely viewed as essential in order to progress toward other development objectives. Although there was no specific chapter on energy in Agenda 21 and no specific United Nations Millennium Development Goal on energy, the access to basic energy services is directly linked to most social and economic development targets that were outlined in the Millennium Declaration WEHAB Working Group, Moreover, where access to energy is lacking, other urgent human and societal needs also are often not met, meaning that energy needs must compete with other priorities.

Fortunately, people need only a relatively modest amount of electricity to be able to read at night, pump a minimal amount of drinking water and listen to radio broadcasts G8-RETF, In other words, it is possible to greatly improve the quality of life for many poor households with a level of energy consumption that is far below that of the average citizen in an industrialized country. These also require energy. Table 1 below shows typical electric service requirements for off-grid households in developing countries, assuming an average household size of five persons.

It has been estimated that basic household services, along with commercial and community activities e. Note that this figure includes only basic electricity needs. The energy requirements of cooking and transportation are not included. Providing basic electricity services to these people at an average annual consumption level of 50 kWh per person would increase the global end-use demand for electricity by roughly.

Table 1. A rapid rise in world oil prices has led to a steep and, for some countries, increasingly unmanageable increase of their import bill for energy commodities. For these countries, diversifying the domestic energy resource base and reducing the demand for imported fuels would bring a host of benefits, not only by freeing scarce resources for domestic investment, but also by reducing long-term exposure to financial and humanitarian crises that now loom in many parts of the world.

As noted in a previous section, energy use in many developing countries is a significant and immediate cause of high levels of air pollution and other forms of environmental degradation. Energy-related emissions from power plants, automobiles, heavy equipment and industrial facilities are largely responsible—especially in major cities—for levels of ambient air pollution that routinely exceed the health thresholds set by many developed countries, and sometimes by an order of magnitude..

In both urban and rural areas, indoor air pollution caused by the use of traditional fuels for cooking and space heating daily exposes billions of people, especially women and children, to significant cardiovascular and respiratory health risks. In many cases, adverse environmental impacts begin well upstream of the point of energy end-use.

The extraction of commercial fuels like coal and oil is often highly damaging to local ecosystems and becomes an immediate cause of land and water pollution. Meanwhile, reliance on traditional fuels, such as wood, can produce its own adverse impacts. Even though emissions in developed-country are overwhelmingly responsible for current levels of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere, numerous analyses conclude that the myriad burdens of global warming are likely to fall disproportionately on developing countries.

This is because developing countries are likely to be more sensitive to such adverse impacts as the effects on water resources and agricultural productivity. They are also more likely to lack the financial and institutional means to implement effective adaptation measures. However, there will be tensions in the near term. This is particularly likely if policies designed to discourage the use of carbon-intensive conventional fuels, many of which implicitly or explicitly have the effect of raising energy prices, are seen as conflicting with the goal of expanding access to essential energy services for the poor or promoting economic development or both.

Thus, the pursuit of a sustainable energy agenda for developing countries requires leveraging the positive synergies of efforts devoted to achieving other societal and economic objectives, while minimizing potential conflicts between different public goals. However, it is useful to first review some of the technology options available to developing countries that seek to meet their growing energy needs in a global environment that is marked by increasingly intractable environmental and resource constraints.

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The usual list includes renewable energy technologies e. In addition, energy efficiency is often cited as a critically important and an often lower-cost complement to supply side improvements. Nevertheless, some options, especially technologies that are in very early stages of commercialization or require very large, initial capital investments or substantial outside expertise to operate, are likely to face additional obstacles to their use in developing countries.

Therefore, they represent important options for rural areas that lack electricity transmission and distribution infrastructures. Other low-carbon supply technologies are reviewed briefly at the end of this section , while energy efficiency is covered as part of the policy discussion in the section that follows. There are six broad categories of renewable energy technologies. They are biomass, wind, solar, hydro, geothermal and marine. They can be tapped by using a variety of conversion technologies or processes to produce a range of energy services, including electricity, heat or cooling , fuels, mechanical power and illumination.

The competitiveness of different renewable technologies in different settings depends on their cost and performance, as well as the local cost and availability of fossil-based energy. All of these factors still vary widely and depend strongly on local conditions. Thus, their integration into a unified electricity grid can pose challenges, especially on a large scale, and may make them less competitive with conventional generating systems.

In addition, the modularity of many renewable energy technologies facilitates their deployment in relatively small increments. This can be advantageous in cost and risk to many developing countries. In the early s, only hydropower was competitive with electricity generated by conventional power plants for on-grid applications.

However, expanding markets and experience-proven cost reductions have since made wind and geothermal power competitive or nearly competitive with other, conventional sources. Solar photovoltaic technology remains more expensive, but can compete in some off-grid niche market applications.

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These comparisons are, of course, based on narrow criteria of strict cash flow and ignore such other advantages as environmental benefits, which renewable technologies can confer G8 RETF, , p. The figures are somewhat dated, but indicate the extent to which additional experience, larger-scale deployment and continued technology improvement may reduce future costs. The prospects for continued cost reductions are promising in view of the recent rapid growth in renewable energy markets. Table 2. They would apply also to other relatively new, low-carbon technology options, such as carbon capture and sequestration.

Figure 5 compares the decline in unit costs for wind and photovoltaic technology in the United States and Japan to the historic decline in the prices of gas turbines. The figures show that the declines were more rapid at first for gas turbines, but slowed as the technology matured. This is typical of maturing technologies. In principle, energy can always be converted from one form to another. In actual practice, however, there will be some forms that will be preferred due to cost-effectiveness. Table 3 suggests some specific near-, medium-, and long-term options for supplying basic energy needs in rural areas using low-carbon technologies.

The optimal mix of options in different settings will depend on costs, scale, location, timing and availability of local resources and expertise and a host of other factors. In general, a greater diversity of supply options will help to reduce exposure to resource and technology risks. Of course, there are also trade-offs to consider. Some standardization can help to reduce deployment costs and make it easier to develop the local expertise required to operate and maintain new technologies and systems. Figure 5: Experience curves for photovoltaics, windmills, and gas turbines in Japan and the United States.

In countries that have access to substantial coal supplies, conventional coal-fired steam-electric power plants are often the cheapest near-term option for the addition of large-scale, grid-connected generating capacity. However, such investments risk locking-in decades of high carbon emissions and, unless modern pollution controls are used, substantial emissions of conventional air pollutants. These economy-environment trade-offs are difficult to resolve, especially for poorer countries that have pressing near-term needs for low-cost power.

For those countries, assistance from developed countries will be essential to offset the additional costs and technology demands of more expensive, but cleaner and lower-carbon, technologies. In the long-term, advanced coal technologies, such as integrated, combined-cycle gasification systems, coupled with carbon capture and sequestration must be successfully commercialized to make continued reliance on coal resources compatible with global carbon limits.

In contrast, nuclear technology is far more demanding. China and India are poised to make substantial investments in nuclear power during the next few decades. However, this technology is unlikely to be attractive to smaller developing countries in the short- to mid-term because of the operational and waste management challenges it presents and the high initial investment required.

Advanced coal systems with carbon capture and sequestration are in an even earlier stage of the research, development and deployment trajectory. Because of the high capital cost and the relatively unproved nature of the advanced coal systems, most analysts believe that developed countries will need to take the lead in demonstrating and commercializing this option. In contrast, the transportation sector has remained, with few exceptions, overwhelmingly dependent on petroleum fuels.

This poses a problem to the environment as transportation accounts for roughly one-quarter of global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions. Further, the reliance on petroleum fuels fails to address the issue of energy and economic security despite recent trends in world oil markets. The rapid growth in vehicle ownership and overall travel are potential problems for many developing countries that already are contending with high levels of urban air pollution and seeing a sharp rise in expenditures for imported oil. Both options have drawn increased attention in recent years.

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A number of countries with large vehicle markets, including China and India, have adopted more stringent emissions standards and are considering the adoption of automobile fuel economy standards. At the same time, global interest in biofuel development has intensified, due in part to the adoption of aggressive fuel mandates in developed countries like the United States. Brazil is already a world leader in this area, having successfully developed a major domestic sugar cane ethanol industry that is economically competitive with conventional gasoline. These are significant issues that should be addressed expeditiously by a thoughtful re-examination and reform of current biofuel policies in the developing world and also in the developed countries that are behind much of the recent drive to expand global production.

In general, such improvements as the ability to cost-effectively convert ligno-cellulosic feedstocks to ethanol would also greatly enhance the net environmental benefits and greenhouse gas reductions achieved by switching from conventional fuels to biofuels. Further, it is clear that developing countries will be unable to avoid the potentially large and adverse consequences without concerted policy interventions by developing and developed countries alike.


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None are easy to implement. All require the active engagement of all sectors of society, including individual consumers and local communities, non-governmental organizations, private businesses and industry, the science and technology research community, governments, intergovernmental institutions and charitable organizations. Developing countries must take the lead in charting new energy courses for themselves.

However, developed countries must stand ready to provide support, recognizing that they have a vital stake in the outcome. These policy actions include:. Promoting energy efficiency and adopt minimum efficiency standards for buildings, appliances and equipment, and vehicles. Identifying the most promising indigenous renewable energy resources and implementing policies to promote their sustainable development.

Seeking developed-country support for the effective transfer of advanced energy technologies, while building the indigenous human and institutional capacity needed to support sustainable energy technologies. First, as noted in the introduction, sustainable energy policies are more likely to succeed if they also contribute to other societal and economic development objectives.

Second, governments should review policies to maximize positive synergies where they exist and to avoid creating cost-cutting incentives. In responding to various pressure groups, governments often adopt conflicting policies that undermine each other, at least in part. For example, government efforts to promote energy efficiency can be undercut by subsidies that tend to promote increased consumption.

Thus, it may not be possible to pursue a comprehensive set of policies all at once. Nevertheless, governments should recognize that maximum benefits can be achieved by an approach that considers the interactions of different policies, leverages multiple opportunities where possible and responds to the specific needs and constraints of individual countries. Energy efficiency can be especially important in rapidly industrializing countries as a way to manage rapid demand growth, improve system reliability, ease supply constraints and allow energy the production and distribution infrastructure to 'catch up.

Nevertheless, without policy intervention, such improvements are unlikely to keep pace with the continued growth in demand, especially in countries that are still in the early stages of industrialization. Moreover, experience shows that market forces by themselves often fail to exploit all cost-effective opportunities to improve energy efficiency. The U. However, the opportunities are also great in some rapidly industrializing economies. China, for example, consumes nine times as much energy per dollar of GDP as does Japan.

Overall, a recent assessment of global efficiency opportunities by the McKinsey Global Institute indicated that the average annual rate of decline in global energy intensity could be raised in a cost-effective way to 2. This would be essentially double the recent global rate of decline, which has been averaging approximately 1. This is a significant finding as it confirms that even relatively small changes in year-to-year improvement of energy efficiency can produce a wide divergence of outcomes over time. The potential benefits of such improvements are very significant in countries that have a rapidly growing demand for new infrastructures, buildings, appliances and equipment.

It is usually much easier and more cost-effective to create a high level of efficiency at the outset than to improve efficiency later. In most situations and all countries, it is essential to have programs that promote more efficient use of energy G-8 RETF, , p. Efficiency standards for appliances, equipment and automobiles have proved to be extremely cost-effective in many developed countries and are often relatively easy to implement compared to other policies, particularly if they can be harmonized with the standards adopted in other large markets. Efficiency standards or codes for buildings, especially commercial buildings, are extremely important because of the long useful life of most structures.

However, to be effective, countries will need to educate architects and builders and develop the means to monitor performance and enforce compliance with the codes. By setting a floor or baseline for energy efficiency, minimum standards can ensure that there will be substantial energy savings in the future. For example, governments can adopt labeling requirements and pro-active public procurement policies. Intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations and charitable associations can encourage or require the use of more efficient equipment. In some countries, utility companies have been successfully enlisted to help promote efficiency by end-use customers.

There is a substantial history of such programs in the United States. However, there are also examples in other countries text box A 9 describes a utility-led initiative in India. Cumulatively, these subsidies are less than the taxes imposed on such fossil fuels as petrol G-8 RETF, However, they have several effects that undermine, rather than bolster, sustainable energy objectives.

First, by artificially reducing the price of certain fuels, they distort the market and encourage inefficient levels of consumption that is, consumption in excess of what the society would use if it was necessary to pay a price that was based on market demand or on real costs. Second, fossil fuel subsidies make it more difficult for energy efficiency and cleaner sources of energy to compete. In fact, many developing-country governments rely on subsidies largely because they lack other reliable mechanisms to make transfer payments to the poor.

However, even as a mechanism to alleviate poverty, the use of subsidies is unsound. Because it is often difficult or impossible to restrict the use of subsidies to the neediest households, most of the benefit typically goes to wealthier households, which can afford a higher level of consumption. They are provided in many countries. They are also addictive and those who benefit from them are usually unwilling to give them up. Thus, analysts may conclude that subsidies should be eliminated or phased out.

However, this is difficult for politicians who must renew their mandates periodically. For example, a gradual reduction in subsidies for conventional fossil fuels could be used to provide new subsidies for more sustainable forms of energy or more efficient technologies. Alternatively, public resources that are conserved by reducing subsidies could be directed toward other societal needs.

This is more likely to be practicable for electricity than for portable fuels like petrol or kerosene. For example, low-income households could be offered reduced electrical rates for the first increments of consumption. In summary, creative policy approaches are needed to reconcile the differing interests of energy access expansion and the promotion of sustainable energy outcomes.

The research community and non-governmental organizations NGOs should respond to this challenge and explore possible solutions, including new mechanisms for transferring aid to poor households to enable them to meet their basic needs. In principle, monetizing positive and negative externalities and ensuring that they are included in energy prices is an elegant way to address many issues of sustainability.

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Without this step, the market will tend to over-allocate resources where there are negative externalities such as pollution and under-allocate resources where there are positive externalities such as improved energy security. Figure 6 illustrates the results of one attempt by the European Commission to quantify the external costs of global warming, public health, occupational health and material damage associated with different ways of generating electricity.

These are the only regions where population growth is expected to outpace global population growth from to Within a single religious group, fertility rates can vary enormously depending on where people live. For example, Muslims in sub-Saharan Africa have a fertility rate of 5. In most regions where reliable fertility data are available for religious groups, Muslims have more children per woman than the regional average.

Across the Asia-Pacific region, North America and Europe, fertility rates among Muslims also are higher than among Christians and the unaffiliated. Because some religious groups are heavily concentrated in a few regions and are rare in other places, separate fertility rates cannot be reliably calculated for all groups in all regions. Reliable data on fertility levels are unavailable, for example, among the relatively small number of Jews in sub-Saharan Africa, Muslims in Latin America and the Caribbean and religiously unaffiliated people in the Middle East and North Africa.

In the two regions where overall population growth is expected to be fastest in the coming decades — sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East-North Africa region — Christian fertility rates are lower than the regional averages 4. On the other hand, in the four regions where overall population growth is expected to be slower, Christian fertility rates equal or exceed the regional averages.

In North America, for example, Christians have a higher fertility rate 2. In almost every region where data are available, the unaffiliated have a fertility rate that is lower than the regional average. In sub-Saharan Africa, the Asia-Pacific region, North America and Europe, fertility among religiously unaffiliated people is lower than the regional averages and lower than the rates among Christians and Muslims.

See chart above. The one exception is Latin America and the Caribbean, where the unaffiliated have slightly higher fertility 2. As previously noted, the projections in this report take into account differences in fertility rates among major religious groups within countries and territories. Over time, these differences can be highly consequential.

For example, Nigeria is estimated at present to have roughly equal numbers of Christians and Muslims, but Nigerian Muslims have a significantly higher Total Fertility Rate 6. One way to see the impact of fertility differences on population projections is to apply an alternative set of assumptions, such as assigning all religious groups within each country the same rate. By contrast, at the global level, the alternative projection scenario would yield little change in the size of major religions. If one were to artificially assume that within each country, all religious groups shared the same fertility rate, Muslims would still be the fastest-growing major religious group worldwide, and the religious composition of the world in would look very similar to how it appears in the main projection scenario.

The outcomes of the two projection scenarios are similar because the future growth of religious groups is driven largely by differences in the geographic regions and individual countries in which the groups are concentrated. For example, as noted above, the Christian fertility rate in Nigeria is 4. In Australia, the fertility rates for Christians and Muslims are 2. In both places, the fertility rate among Muslims is higher than among Christians. But the differences inside each country are smaller than the differences between the two countries, with the average woman in Nigeria bearing about 3.

Life expectancy at birth — an estimate of the expected life span of an average newborn child — has been rising around the world.

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According to the United Nations, global life expectancy at birth increased from 48 years in the to period to 69 years in , and it is expected to continue to rise over the next four decades. People in many though not all countries are living longer due to increased access to healthcare, improvements in diet and hygiene, effective responses to infectious disease, and many other factors.

These developments in healthcare and living conditions, however, have not occurred uniformly around the world. As a result, life expectancy varies across the six regions in this study. At present, North America has the highest average life expectancy 79 years , followed closely by Europe 77 and Latin America and the Caribbean Average life expectancies in the Middle East and North Africa 72 and the Asia-Pacific region 70 are slightly above the global average Sub-Saharan Africa is the only region where average life expectancy 55 years is below the global average.

By , life expectancy at birth is projected to average 76 years around the world, an increase of about seven years from the current five-year period But regions and individual countries that have relatively high life expectancies in are expected to make only modest gains compared with regions and individual countries where life expectancy, at present, is much lower. For example, North America is expected to see a five-year gain in life expectancy by — from 79 to 84 years. Sub-Saharan Africa, meanwhile, is projected to experience an increase in average life expectancy of 13 years, from 55 to 68 years.

Groups with higher life expectancies will, on average, live longer and all else remaining equal have larger populations. A higher share of young people who are alive today in Europe and North America are likely to be alive in compared with those residing in sub-Saharan Africa and the Asia-Pacific region. Worldwide, little information is available on differences in life expectancy among religious groups within individual countries.

In the absence of better data, the projections in this report assume that people in all religious groups have the average life expectancy of the country in which they live. Nevertheless, differences in life expectancy play an important role in the population growth projections. For example, because of the countries in which Jews are concentrated, the global life expectancy at birth for Jews in the present five-year period is estimated to be 80 years, the highest of any of the religious groups in this report. Other groups that are concentrated in countries where life expectancy at birth currently exceeds the global average 69 years are the religiously unaffiliated 75 years , Buddhists 74 years , members of folk religions 73 years , followers of other religions 71 years and Christians 71 years.

By contrast, both Muslims 67 years and Hindus 66 years are concentrated in countries with relatively low life expectancy at birth. In the period, Jews still are projected to have the highest life expectancy of all the major religious groups, a global average of 85 years, five years longer than at present. But the greatest gains in longevity over the next four decades are expected among Hindus, whose global average life expectancy is projected to rise from 66 years in to 75 years in By , however, the median age of the population was 28 years.

And by , the global median age is expected to be 37, as declining fertility rates lead to relative stability in the number of young children and as the elderly population soars. The United Nations estimates that the number of people ages and older will rise from about , in the year to more than 3 million in But as the global population ages, this distribution will shift, particularly among the youngest and oldest cohorts. By , according to U. The youthfulness of a population is an important factor in future growth.

All else being equal, a population that begins with a relatively large percentage of people who are in — or soon will enter — their prime childbearing years will grow faster than a population that begins with many people who are beyond their prime reproductive years. This reflects the geographic concentration of the unaffiliated in countries such as China and Japan, which have relatively old populations with low fertility rates.

By contrast, more than a quarter of Christians worldwide and three-in-ten Hindus were in the youngest age group as of This reflects the high fertility rates in recent decades among Christians in sub-Saharan Africa and Hindus in India. For the purposes of projecting future growth, the number of women in their early reproductive years also is a key factor. In many countries, it is fairly common for adults to switch from identifying with the religion in which they grew up to identifying with another religion or with no religion.

This collection of data provides the most comprehensive picture available to date of global patterns of switching among major religious groups, including from having been raised in a religion to being religiously unaffiliated as an adult. Levels of switching are different for men and women. But at the global level, net movement due to the religious switching of men and women follows similar patterns. The chart below shows the projected total amount of movement into and out of major religious groups between and for countries with data on switching.

The largest net movement is expected to be out of Christianity 66 million people , including the net departure of twice as many men 44 million as women 22 million. Similarly, net gains among the unaffiliated 61 million are projected to be more than twice as large for men 43 million as for women 19 million. Muslims and followers of folk religions and other religions are expected to experience modest gains due to religious switching. Jews and Buddhists are expected to experience modest net losses through religious switching. At the regional level, some patterns stand out. The largest projected net gains from switching between and are into the ranks of the unaffiliated, particularly in North America 26 million , Europe 24 million , Latin America 6 million and the Asia-Pacific region 4 million.

But in sub-Saharan Africa, the greatest net gains are expected for Muslims 3 million. The largest net losses are expected among Christian populations, notably in North America 28 million , Europe 24 million , Latin America and the Caribbean 9 million and sub-Saharan Africa 3 million. In the Asia-Pacific region, Christians are expected to have a net loss, due to religious switching, of more than 2 million adherents.


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Religious switching may have a large impact on the religious composition of individual countries. But over the year horizon of these projections, it is expected to have only a modest effect on the global size of most religious groups. The global impact of religious switching can be seen by comparing the main projection scenario used in this study, which models switching in 70 countries, with two hypothetical scenarios — one in which switching is modeled in a total of a countries, and one that assumes no switching will occur anywhere. In the second scenario considered here, switching is projected in an additional 85 countries by using some of the initial 70 countries as proxies for switching patterns in similar, often neighboring, nations.

The third scenario assumes that no religious switching will take place from to , meaning that every adult will remain in the group in which he or she was raised. All those raised as Christians will stay Christian, all those raised without a religion will stay unaffiliated, and so on. The biggest differences in the outcome of these three scenarios are the size of the Christian and unaffiliated populations in It is slightly lower When switching is modeled in 70 countries — the main scenario — When switching is modeled for an additional 85 countries using proxy data, the projections show Comparing the outcomes of these three scenarios suggests that religious switching — at least at recently observed levels, in the limited number of countries for which data on switching are available — will have a relatively small impact on the projected size of major religious groups in Because of a lack of reliable data on religious switching in China, none of the scenarios models religious switching among its 1.

International migration has no immediate impact on the global size of religious groups. But, over time, migration can significantly change the religious makeup of individual countries and even entire regions. Europe, for example, has experienced an inflow of Muslims from North Africa, South Asia and Turkey over the past decade. Estimating future migration is challenging because the movement of people across borders is dependent on government policies and international events that can change quickly. And because many migrants follow economic opportunities, migration patterns also are dependent on changing economic conditions.

Nonetheless, it is possible to use data on past migration as a reasonable estimate for the future, just as past fertility and religious switching patterns are used in this report to model future fertility and switching. The Pew Research Center, in collaboration with researchers at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, has developed an innovative technique to estimate recent migration patterns and their religious breakdown.

First, recent changes in the origins and destinations of migrants worldwide are estimated using census and survey data about the migrant population living in each country. Finally, the religious breakdown of migrant flows is used to calculate migration rates into and out of most countries by religion, by sex and by five-year age groups. For more detail on how future migration was projected, see the Methodology.

Between and , approximately 19 million people are expected to move across international borders. Muslim migrants, numbering about 6 million in total, are expected to come largely from the Asia-Pacific and Middle East-North Africa regions, migrating within those same regions as well as to Europe and North America. As a result of these movements from one region to another, the Asia-Pacific region is projected to experience a net loss of approximately 2 million Muslims and , Hindus between and The Latin America-Caribbean region is likely to see a net loss of 3 million Christians from migration.

And sub-Saharan Africa is projected to have a net loss of about , Christians and Muslims, combined. However, the birth rates in these regions are relatively high, and their current populations are relatively young. Consequently, their total populations are projected to grow despite emigration, and the outflows are not likely to significantly change their religious makeup. By contrast, net inflows of migrants are expected to have a substantial impact on the religious makeup of many countries in Europe, North America and the Middle East-North Africa region.

For example, a net inflow of 1 million Muslims is projected to occur in Europe between and Smaller numerical gains from migration also are projected in Europe for both Buddhists and Hindus. Religious minorities in North America also are expected to experience net gains from migration between and , including Muslims about , , Hindus about , and Buddhists about , These religious groups are expected to come from all over the world, but primarily from Asia and the Pacific. The Middle East-North Africa region is likely to see a net inflow of Hindus and Christians through migration, primarily to the oil-rich Gulf states.

Hindus are expected to come principally from India and Nepal, while Christians are projected to come from the Philippines, other countries in Asia and the Pacific and Europe. To see how much impact migration has on the projections, researchers compared the main projection scenario used in this report with an alternative scenario in which no international migration occurs after A variety of factors, including higher birth rates and a bulging youth population among Muslims in Europe, underlie this expected increase.