America’s Muslim population is growing

January 5, 2018

Recent political debates over Muslim immigration have prompted questions about just how many Muslims actually live in America. The U.S. Census does not ask about religion, but—based on results of its own survey and demographic study, released on January 3—Pew Research Center estimates that, in 2017, there were about 3.45 million Muslims living nationwide, making up about 1.1% of the total U.S. population.

What’s more, the Muslim population is growing faster than are the numbers of some other “minority” religions. For example, while there are currently not as many Muslims in America as there are people who identity as Jewish (1.9% of the population), Pew projects that, by 2040, Muslims will replace Jews as the nation’s second-largest religious group after Christians.

And by 2050, the researchers anticipate that America’s Muslim population will reach 8.1 million, or 2.1% of the nation’s total population—nearly twice the share of today.

Like other demographic groups, Muslims tend to settle near others of the same religious and cultural preferences. Some metro areas, such as Washington, D.C., have sizable Muslim communities. Likewise, certain states, such as New Jersey, are home to two or three times as many Muslim adults per capita as the national average.

When Pew first conducted a study of Muslim Americans in 2007, the pollsters estimated that there were 2.35 million Muslims of all ages (including 1.5 million adults) nationwide. By 2011, the number of Muslims had increased to 2.75 million (including 1.8 million adults). Since then, the Muslim population has continued to grow at a rate of roughly 100,000 per year, driven both by higher fertility rates among Muslim Americans as well as the continued migration of Muslims to the U.S.

Religious conversions haven’t had a large impact on the size of the U.S. Muslim population, largely because about as many Americans convert to Islam as leave the faith. Indeed, while about 20% of  American Muslim adults were raised in a different faith tradition and converted to Islam, a similar share of Americans were raised Muslim and now no longer identify with the faith.

Research contact: info@pewresearch.org.

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