Worldwide Zarathushti demographics study by FEZANA

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(Revision 3, Oct 28, 2012, including results from the 2011 Iran census.)
In commemoration of its 25th anniversary, FEZANA undertook a demographic study of Zarathushtis around the world. The 2012 data was compared with a similar study in 2004 [FEZANA Journal, Winter 2004]. Some very significant (and rather alarming) observations were noted.

* The estimated Zarathushti world population has declined by11.0%, weighted largely by declines in Iran (- 37.5%), India (-12.4%, note: estimated data was used, pending official census results) and Pakistan (-21.0%). Gains in the Diaspora countries, primarily USA (+32.5%), Canada (+7.5%), New Zealand (+36.8%) and Singapore (+129.6%) do not compensate for these losses.

* The situation in India is exacerbated by the high ratio of deaths to births. In Mumbai, this ratio has increased from 303 deaths per 100 births in 1992, to 741 deaths per 100 births in 2011. Over the past two decades (1992 – 2011) there were only3,456 births and a five times larger number of 17,715 deaths in Mumbai!

* Over the last two decades, there has been an upward trend in intermarriages as reported in Parsiana for Mumbai (from 20.5% in 1992 to 38.9% in 2011) and in FEZANA Journal for North America (from 23.7% in 1991 to approx. 60% in 2011.

* On the optional survey questions about offspring of mixed marriages and conversions to/from the Zoroastrian faith, few responses were received (only from a few North American states/provinces, and not from any other country). While not statistically significant, the data does indicate a disturbing number of children of mixed marriages and more so, their next generation, not following the Zarathushti religion.

Disclaimer. While every effort has been made in good faith to seek out reliable sources, this compilation is not an official, statistically correct census. The raw data is presented, as received, to get a flavor of the Zarathushti world. We leave it to the professionals to analyze the data, and determine its credibility and level of confidence. Addressing the issues. In India the decline has been attributed primarily to low fertility rates; the leadership is aware and taking measures to address those issues. In the Diaspora communities, while there is population growth, indications are towards subtle decline due to assimilation and intermarriages; we urge community leaders to initiate measures to keep future generations within the fold. We appeal to the worldwide leadership to take cognizance of these disturbing trends, implement actions to address the issues unique to each country, and work together towards a worldwide Zarathushti renaissance.

These results were presented (along with an early history of Zarathushtis in North America) by Roshan Rivetna at the Congress in New York in August 2012. The powerpoint presentation and the paper “The Zarathushti World – a Demographic Picture by Roshan Rivetna†(Revision 3, dated Oct 28, 2012, now updated to include 2011 Iran Census results) can be viewed at
For information contact FEZANA Administrator Zenobia Damania at [email protected].

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