I
hope you are brushing up on your Amharic. By 2050, Ethiopia will be
the tenth largest country in the world, in terms of population, at
about 145 milliion. So it is worthwhile paying attention to social
trends there. One talking point in the Ethiopian media is whether it
will be a majority Muslim or a majority Christian country. According to
the Population Reference Bureau (PRB), the situation is far from
clear.

Figures
from a 2007 survey showed that Muslims were 34% of the population,
Ethiopian Orthodoxy 44% and Protestants 19%. The fastest-growing
group is the Protestants, who grew from 14% to 19% between 1994 and
2007. Muslims have grown faster, however, in urban areas.

Ethiopia
is still an agricultural nation — 84% of the population in rural
areas. The total fertility rate (TFR) has fallen below replacement
level (2.1 children per woman) in the capital Addis Ababa, but it is
3.5 children per woman in towns, and remains above 6 children per
women in the country. Overall the Muslim fertility rate is higher,
especially in areas where Muslims and Christians are roughly equal in
population. But it is very difficult to predict what the balance will
be in 2050 because Ethiopia is a patchwork of ethnic groups. The PRB
says:

The
complex web of traditional culture, regional differences, rural
community structure, and ethnicity strongly influences the lagging
rural fertility transition, rapid population growth, and uneven
geographic distribution in both major religions in Ethiopia. The role
of religious identity is not as influential on fertility as other
sociocultural factors.

Michael Cook

Michael Cook

Michael Cook is the editor of MercatorNet