According to a study published in the journal “Demographic Research”, social scientists’ prediction that religion will become a part of history is proving to be incorrect.
The study shows that people who are not religious (including atheists and agnostics, as well as those who say their religion is “nothing in particular”) made up 16.4% of the world’s population in 2010. While the number of people who consider themselves unaffiliated has been growing, (largely because of people in North America and Europe abandoning the faith of their childhood), the study suggests that the unaffiliated will drop to 13.2% of the world’s population in 2050.
The basis of this prediction is that the growth of the unaffiliated (as a result of people abandoning their faith) will be more than offset by the rate of childbirth among the faithful. The average age of women belonging to religious groups is six years younger than those that are unaffilitated, while the birthrate for the religious woman is almost one child higher than those with no faith.
Another aspect of this trend is the effect of religion on business and the economy. One of the expected market changes identified recently by Wells Fargo was that the purpose of business will change from just making money to “doing good”.
There are a number of companies following a religious or belief-based ethos. For instance, Sanitarium, the Australian breakfast cereal company, is owned and operated by the Seventh Day Adventist Church. Others include the humanist influenced Mondelēz International (formerly Kraft Foods) the Buddhist influenced WholeFoods and the Zoroastrian ethos of Tata Group, India’s largest business with operations on six continents and in more than 80 countries. Tata’s philosophy, based on the Zoroastrian faith, is: “Improving the quality of life of the communities we serve.”
The journal study concludes “If the new demographic projection and Wells Fargo’s business forecast are correct, these brief examples suggest that we can expect faith to be a powerful force for socially responsible investing, innovation and economic vitality in the years and decades ahead.”
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