LONDON – Almost 1 in 10 babies and toddlers in England and Wales are Muslim, according to new analysis of census figures published Friday, illustrating the growth of the minority community.
Some 317,952 children aged under 5, or 9.1 percent, were registered as being Muslim in the 2011 census, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures show.
As a measure of how the religious demographics of England and Wales are changing, the figure is nearly double the 4.8 percent of the whole population who are Muslim, while fewer than 1 in 200 people over age 85 are Muslim. It is also an 80 percent increase on the 176,264 Muslim under-5s recorded in 2001.
“It certainly is a startling figure,” David Coleman, professor of demography at Oxford University, told The Times newspaper on Friday. “Continuing immigration from Pakistan, Bangladesh and India has been added to by new immigration from African countries and from the Middle East.”
Muslims have the youngest age profile of the main religious groups. Nearly half of Muslims (48 percent) were aged under 25 (1.3 million).
The figures showed that Christianity remains by far the most common religion registered for babies in England and Wales, at 43.7 percent.
Nearly as many parents listed their children under 5 as having no religion — the answer given for 34 percent. The most common religions registered for British toddlers after Christianity and Islam were Hinduism at 1.6 percent, Sikhism at 0.8 percent, Judaism at 0.5 percent and Buddhism at 0.3 percent.