This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Monday, December 26, 2011

The Demographics of Christmas

Christmas celebrates the birth of Christ and so is an obviously important day on the Christian religious calendar. To be sure, it has been somewhat hijacked by the gift-giving Santa Claus, but people are amazingly clever at wrapping (pun intended) Santa up with the birth of Christ--witness the story from Reuters that:
Thousands of foreign pilgrims and Palestinian Christians, some in Santa hats, gathered at Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity Saturday to pray for peace at the place where Jesus was born.
How many people would show up if everyone who considered themselves to be Christian were to descend upon Bethlehem? The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life estimates that you would need to set up 2.18 billion seats, thus accommodating 31 percent of all humans.
Taken as a whole, Christians are by far the world’s largest religious group. Muslims, the second-largest group, make up a little less than a quarter of the world’s population, according to previous studies by the Pew Forum.
Christians are also geographically widespread – so far-flung, in fact, that no single continent or region can indisputably claim to be the center of global Christianity.
A century ago, this was not the case. In 1910, about two-thirds of the world’s Christians lived in Europe, where the bulk of Christians had been for a millennium, according to historical estimates by the Center for the Study of Global Christianity. Today, only about a quarter of all Christians live in Europe (26%). A plurality – more than a third – now are in the Americas (37%). About one in every four Christians lives in sub-Saharan Africa (24%), and about one-in-eight is found in Asia and the Pacific (13%).
I suspect that Santa is pretty tired--talk about traveling at Christmas... 

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