Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on ReligionInstitute for Studies of Relgion
IJRR :: 2011 Volume 7 :: Article 2
2011 Volume 7, Article 2
Estimating the Global Muslim Population: Size and Distribution of the World's Muslim Population

Author: Brian J. Grim (Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life) and Becky Hsu (Princeton University)

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Current estimates of the global Muslim population cited in the academic literature range between one billion and nearly two billion. In this article, we describe the most rigorous effort to date to estimate the size of the Muslim population in each country of the world, resulting in a global estimate of 1.57 billion Muslims in 2009, or nearly one in four of the world‘s 6.8 billion inhabitants. We describe a demographic data quality index that we developed to assess the sources used in our estimate. We discuss the limitations of censuses, surveys, and other data sources, and we argue that the best strategy is to select the strongest data source for estimating the size of the Muslim population for a particular country rather than using the index to create a weighted average. We also present other innovations, including a methodology for combining separate male and female demographic and health survey datasets to arrive at country estimates for religious affiliation.

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