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Pew Study on the Religious Composition of India

  • IASbaba
  • September 22, 2021
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Pew Study on the Religious Composition of India

Part of: Prelims and GS I – Population 

Context A new study on the religious composition of India’s population since Partition was conducted recently by pew study.

  • The Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan American think tank based in Washington, D.C. 
  • It provides information on social issues, public opinion, and demographic trends shaping the United States and the world.

Major findings of the study

  • Marginal change in composition: Due to the “declining and converging fertility patterns” of Hindus and Muslims, there have been only marginal changes in the overall religious composition of the population since 1951.
  • Total Fertility Rate (1992 to 2015): For Muslims, it declined from 4.4 to 2.6, while that of Hindus declined from 3.3 to 2.1. This indicates that the gaps in childbearing between India’s religious groups are much smaller than they used to be.
    • Women in central India tended to have more children.
    • Bihar and Uttar Pradesh showed TFR of 3.4 and 2.7 respectively, in contrast to a TFR of 1.7 and 1.6 in Tamil Nadu and Kerala respectively.
  • Positive overall growth: But all the six major religious groups — Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains — have grown in absolute numbers. 
    • The sole exception to this trend are Parsis, whose number halved between 1951 and 2011, from 110,000 to 60,000.
  • Boy preference: Sex-selective abortions had caused an estimated deficit of 20 million girls. This practice is more common among Indian Hindus than among Muslims and Christians.”
  • Effect of migration: Since the 1950s, migration has had only a modest impact on India’s religious composition
    • Muslims more likely than Hindus to leave India while immigrants into India from Muslim-majority countries are disproportionately Hindu.
  • Religious conversion: It has also had a negligible impact on India’s overall composition, with 98% of Indian adults still identifying with the religion in which they were raised.

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