Buddhism in 2050: Worldwide stagnation, booming in wealthy countries

Pew Research made a great survey on religions future.
It's a HUGE survey, a prospective one, from 2010 to 2050.
You can find it here, for free.

Who is PEW?

You don't know them?
They produce a lot of great stats and Conrad Hackett, demographer is one of my favorite Twitter following.
Here is their mission:
"We generate a foundation of facts that enriches the public dialogue and supports sound decision-making. We are nonprofit, nonpartisan and nonadvocacy. We value independence, objectivity, accuracy, rigor, humility, transparency and innovation."

You can read this survey for many reasons:

  • check how big your religion will be in 2050,
  • check how big the booming religion of the moment, Islam, will be in 2050,
  • check which religion will select the biggest atheist population, China.
  • etc.

Why I read it: Buddhism

I read it to see the future of my favorite religion, Buddhism.
If you know me, no need to explain. I can explain you why I'm a big fan of this religion for hours.
If you don't know me, I sum up why I like this religion:

  • Not human centric: it puts human at the same level as other species and thus, lead to vegetarianism.
  • Not ego centric: Buddhism teaches that human's beliefs that they are different, that they have a mission, that they worth more than other humans are wrong. It doesn't say everybody must be equal, it just says everybody is in the same boat.
  • Great values: buddhism put kindness, happiness and compassion at the heart of its values. Our own happiness and other humans happiness doesn't make difference. Our happiness is not related by social status, possessions, etc. Life not a zero sum game.
  • No external pressure or source of solution, no dogma, nobody will save or punish you, tell you who you are of what to do, what to think, change is an inner process.
  • No proselytism: Dalai Lama advise people to think twice before moving to buddhism because changing from one religion to another is like cutting our roots. Have you ever seen an ad from a Buddhism temple or organization? No. 
  • Not political, buddhism is never recycled for political or war reasons.
  • Non violent, you already know that.
I think that this religion is just positive for the planet. Very positive. That's what I want it to succeed, not as a religion, but as a philosophy, an influence on the way humans live with each others.

Future of Buddhism: negative macro trends...

Sorry for Buddhism experts, I may be wrong or very approximative but It's my perspective.
And writing these bullet points, I realized that Pew's conclusion on Buddhism future were easy to anticipate...

One word: stagnation.

I asked Conrad why Buddhism will just stagnate from now to 2050, here is the answer:

I let you check the article above. It's pretty clear. Buddhism goes down. Macro trends like fertility, aging population explain the situation...

But, very positive signals too in Europe and in the US

Look at this one:
Buddhist Population Growth Compared With Overall Growth in Each Region, 2010 to 2050

Quote: "In North America, for example, the Buddhist population is projected to grow by more than 2 million, from 3.9 million in 2010 to nearly 6.1 million in 2050. At the same time, the Buddhist populations in Europe and the Middle East-North Africa region are expected roughly to double."

This trend amazed me!

A religion which...

  • does not really have a "cause",
  • does not have dogma or a clear clergy,
  • do not do marketing,
  • do not do do proselytism, 
  • is not backed up by powerful and rich States, 
  • is fought by one of the most popular State in the world
will boom in Europe and US. USA will be the 10th buddhist country in 2050 with more than 6 million people. Europe will have 2,5 million buddhist.
And what I like most beyond these figures is that, as Buddhism does not have dogma, influence of Buddhism will be bigger. Beyond real "Buddhists", a lot of people like me will be exposed to Buddhism philosophy, like it and follow some of its messages.
Zen, yoga, meditation have more and more adepts, that's kind of Buddhism influence too!

What about purchase power?

I like the idea that the world is shaped by what people buy.
As a result, Buddhist influence will really have an impact on the way the wold is shaped if people who have a lot of money to spend are influenced by it. I made a blog post about it.
Indeed, if millions of very low income people convert to Islam of Christianism, it's big in terms of figures and volume but not on the way the world work.

Let's check the GDP per capita forecasted by Goldman S.:

Top ten shows US, Canada, UK, France, Germany, Italy.
Japan, Korea, big Buddhist countries are here too.

  • Among the top 10 GDP per capita in 2015, 6 will see a growing influence of Buddhism.
  • 2 are in the top 10 list of Buddhist country

Isn't it quite positive?
I think it is.
It may change the world.