ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Change in Religious Composition across Districts in India from 2001 to 2011

A Descriptive Analysis of the Religion Census

The authors acknowledge the two anonymous referees for their comments and suggestions to the paper.

There are more than a billion people in India with diverse religious beliefs, and understanding the changes in the religious composition over time can be insightful from a cultural, social, and political standpoint. Using the census data on religion from 2001 to 2011 to describe the changes in religious composition across 640 districts in India, we find that the share of the population of a religious group appears to depend on the differences in growth rates across religions (and not on the absolute growth rates of any given religion) and the baseline share of religion in the previous period. Similar growth rates across religions will still generate different compositions in the districts, underscoring the importance of understanding religious composition in contextual terms.

With more than a billion people, the religious diversity of India is a unique social and cultural phenomenon (Clothey 2006). Even though Hinduism is the dominant religion with a 79.8% share in the religious population (Office of the Registrar General and Census Commissioner 2011), India is home to people with diverse religious beliefs and practices. The prominent among them in terms of size of the population are Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, and other religions and persuasions, including those who do not wish to state their religion (PIB 2015). It is, however, important to highlight that the religious diversity of India is dynamic, where, over time, the composition of religious groups in the population has changed and will continue to do so in the future. In this paper, we document the change in the population share of different religious groups from 2001 to 2011 at the district level across India.

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Published On : 9th Mar, 2024

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