Far more Christian than Muslim migrants worldwide

Thu Mar 8, 2012 2:36pm EST
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By Tom Heneghan, Religion Editor

PARIS (Reuters)- Christians far outnumber Muslims as migrants around the world, including in the European Union where debates about immigration usually focus on new Muslim arrivals, according to a new study issued on Thursday.

Of the world's 214 million people who have moved from their home country to live in another, about 106 million (49 percent) are Christians while around 60 million (27 percent) are Muslims, the study by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life said.

Only 3.6 million Jews around the world have moved across international borders, the study said, but that is 25 percent of the world's Jewish population, by far the highest proportion on the move of any faith group.

"Many experts think that, on the whole, economic opportunities - better jobs and higher wages - have been the single biggest driver of international migration," it said.

"At the same time, religion remains a factor in some people's decisions to leave their countries of birth and their choices of where to go."

The study defined migrants as people living in another country in 2010 for over a year, including estimates of illegal immigrants and long-term refugees including Palestinians and their descendants.

"Perhaps contrary to popular perception, ... Christian immigrants outnumber Muslim immigrants in the European Union as a whole," the report said, indirectly referring to far-right parties that have long campaigned against Muslim newcomers.

Of the 47 million migrants in the EU, 26 million (56 percent) are Christians, double the 13 million Muslim migrants, who make up only 27 percent of the total, it said.   Continued...