A report produced by a Lebanese think tank estimates that, contrary to widespread public perception, the proportion of Christians in Lebanon is actually increasing and could rise by over a third by 2030. The study, produced for the Lebanese Information Centre (LIC), a U.S.-based think tank, was released Feb. 21.
(Milan/e.p.) - A report produced by a Lebanese think tank estimates that, contrary to widespread public perception, the proportion of Christians in Lebanon is actually increasing and could rise by over a third by 2030.
The study, produced for the Lebanese Information Centre (LIC), a U.S.-based think tank and verified by Statistics Lebanon, a leading polling and research firm, was released Feb. 21.
It states that by 2030, the population of Lebanese Christians will rise to 37 percent and by 2045 to more than 39 percent. According to MercatorNet, a website promoting human dignity, the report also says that because hundreds of thousands of overseas Lebanese are eligible to vote, 40 percent of Lebanese on the electoral roll will be Christian by 2040, and by 2045, the figure will be 41 percent.
The study shows that the Christian population in Lebanon remained stabilized in 2011 at 1,024,038 (34.35 percent) vs. 1,951,669 Muslims (65.47 percent), according to voter registration numbers. It said that population growth among Lebanon’s Christians is expected to increase due to a drop in the wave of migration, equal numbers of Christian and Muslim migrants and a low birth rate among Muslims. The numbers exclude immigrants.
The report records that the country’s Muslim fertility rate was 5.44 children per woman in 1971, compared the Christian one of 3.56. But by 2004, the Lebanese Information Centre estimates that it had dropped to 1.82, compared to the Christian fertility rate of 1.53. The think tank puts the significant decline down to instability, education and secularisation.
The country’s 1975-1990 civil war caused a slump in fertility, and as more opportunities opened up for girls, they married later and had fewer children. The growing secularisation of Lebanese society meant that both Christians and Muslims were paying less attention to the exhortations of religious leaders to have big families.
MercatorNet reports that many men also emigrated during those years, leading to a disproportionately large number of single women in Lebanese society. But it reports that political stability is likely to increase in the coming years due to a lower intensity of emigration.
The report’s findings contrast with the sentiment of two-thirds of Lebanese Christians who, in a poll taken in January, said they felt the very existence of their communities is under long-term threat in their country. Too many of their fellow Christians are emigrating, they believe, and their share of the population is shrinking as their political leaders are consumed with factional infighting.
Lebanon has been without an official census since 1932 because of the power-sharing agreement between the various religious communities. The fear has been that by examining each community’s actual demographic, it could lead to a re-examination of that agreement.
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