April 28, 2009

Reassessing Buddhists in Hawai‘i

Thanks to helpful comments over at Dharma Folk, I was alerted to two issues that I overlooked. I’ve since changed my number yet again. The new adjusted figure is still 1.9 million Asian American Buddhists (current estimate: 1.862m; previously: 1.902m) out of 3.3 million Buddhists nationally.

First, I’ve been using the word “count” interchangeably with “sample”, and this practice is misleading. The U.S. Religious Landscape Survey wasn’t a census. A sample of the American demographic was taken and then weighted according to national parameters using a type of regression. Proper samples often get a pretty good look at demographics, but sometimes the sample is skewed in favor of one demographic over another, as is the case with the Pew’s Survey. My goal has been to adjust the Pew numbers to compensate for this skewedness. When I said “undercounted” what I meant to say was “the underestimated population of a certain demographic.”

Second, in at least one of my adjustments, I made an assumption I’d like to take back. I assumed that the underestimated number of Buddhists in Hawai‘i (106,021) were all Asian American. I’d like to be a little more conservative and assume that this underestimated number be proportioned according to Hawai‘is racial/ethnic makeup, leaving 61,693 in the Asian American box (that includes multiethnic individuals). The end result doesn’t change much, but I hope it’s some comfort to know that I made the effort to take these issues into account.

All feedback is great. Thanks Marcus and Rev. Danny Fisher!

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