Pew survey tallies larger Buddhist population than previously thought

A new study by the Pew Forum on Religious and Public Life estimates that between 1 and 1.3 percent of the United States population—between 3 and 4 million people—identifies as Buddhist, a dramatic increase from a 2007 Pew survey that found only about .7 percent of the population to be Buddhist.

The new study, which focused on religious identity and practices of Asian Americans, also estimated that around two-thirds of American Buddhists are Asian American, about double the proportion found in the 2007 survey. The study’s authors said the probable reason for the increased estimate of Asian American Buddhists is that the previous survey was only conducted in English and Spanish, while the new survey was also conducted in seven commonly spoken Asian languages.

You can read the full report here.



  1. arunlikhati
    Posted July 20, 2012 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

    For the record, it's written here that "two-thirds of American Buddhists are Asian American, about double the proportion found in previous surveys." I am aware of only one survey which estimated Asian Americans to constitute just a third of American Buddhists: the U.S. Religious Landscape Survey, which I have duly criticized. If there is another such survey, I would deeply appreciate if Shambhala Sun news editors, being the responsible journalists that they are, indicate precisely which survey(s) they are referring to. There are not many. If it should happen that no other such surveys exist, I would both recommend and appreciate that they correct the error.

  2. Claire Michalewicz
    Posted July 21, 2012 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    Hi Arun: Thank you for pointing that out; we've fixed the error. Thanks!

  3. Posted February 4, 2013 at 7:08 am | Permalink

    I do wish that they're taking the surveys seriously, because I'm quite skeptical about the estimated population of Buddhists. I'm half Asian, and few of my friends are Buddhists, so I tried to research about their population, and I always get different answers. – Mitch C.

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