Theravada Buddhists in the world

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Theravada Buddhists in the world

Postby David N. Snyder » Mon Apr 05, 2010 7:43 pm

As a former sociology professor, I still like playing with stats, especially demographics. I could not find any list that breaks down the number of Theravada Buddhists in the world, so made my own:

Theravada Buddhists in the World
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Re: Theravada Buddhists in the world

Postby bodom » Mon Apr 05, 2010 8:04 pm

Very cool David! :thumbsup: I think most of us Theravadans are very fond of lists. :tongue:

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Re: Theravada Buddhists in the world

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Apr 05, 2010 8:05 pm

Hi David,

It's a nice table, but I suspect that the proportions of Theravada in Australia/Oceania is seriously overestimated at 50%. Down here the majority of Buddhists are immigrants, and the majority of those are from China and Korea, so unlikely to be Theravada. [Of course, many are now Christian, particularly Koreans, but that's another story.].

There is NZ and Australian census data on line and I recall the NZ data going down to Buddhist by ethnicity, but does not distinguish Buddhist sects.

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Re: Theravada Buddhists in the world

Postby Cittasanto » Mon Apr 05, 2010 8:15 pm

I like it
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Re: Theravada Buddhists in the world

Postby David N. Snyder » Mon Apr 05, 2010 9:03 pm

Thanks Bodom and Manapa!

Hi Mike,

Thanks for that info. Then apparently Oceania is similar to the U.S., with most of the Buddhist numbers coming from immigration. I was just making an unscientific guess with 50% Theravada in Oceania, due to the higher numbers from Oceania here on Dhamma Wheel. :tongue:

In the U.S. about 80% of all Buddhists are from [Far East] Asian immigration and/or the next generations.
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Re: Theravada Buddhists in the world

Postby Kim OHara » Mon Apr 05, 2010 9:42 pm

Hi, David,
It's good to have the numbers but while we're talking about improvements ... isn't your precision way higher than your accuracy?
(I'm a non-scientist but the scientists around me make a big issue of it whenever stats appear. :stirthepot: )
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Re: Theravada Buddhists in the world

Postby Ben » Mon Apr 05, 2010 10:09 pm

Hi David

You should be able to extract theravada buddhists from Australian census data. If it is not readily available from Australain Bureau of Statistics website: http://www.abs.gov.au/
you should contact the ABS to see whether they can give you the information for free. If that is not the case, then an email to the National Library of Australia, http://www.nla.gov.au/ or one of the State reference libraries Mitchel Library, Sydney: http://www.sl.nsw.gov.au/ or State Library of Victoria: http://www.slv.vic.gov.au/ should answer that request as they will have a full compliment of ABS publications and do free reference requests to the public as part of their charter.
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Re: Theravada Buddhists in the world

Postby David N. Snyder » Mon Apr 05, 2010 10:18 pm

Thanks Ben,

I already took a quick look and see that in the 2006 census, almost 2.2% identified as Buddhist in Australia. Excellent! That is high for a non-Asian country.

Here in the U.S. the census forms still do not ask religious preference so we have to rely on private studies which are usually biased or have poor methodology.
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Re: Theravada Buddhists in the world

Postby Ben » Mon Apr 05, 2010 11:07 pm

Hi David

Yes, I should have put a caveat on my last post indicating my suspicion that the number of Theravadins in Australia would be miniscule. Having said that, a few years ago after the ABS had crunched the census data, there were news reports about how Buddhism is the fastest growing religion in Australia (discounting the jedis). Being the smallest recognized religion makes it easy to be the fastest growing!
Apart from my co-practitioners, I know no other Buddhists (let alone Theravadins) here in Tasmania. And my co-practitioners don't even consider themselves as 'Buddhist'! But then, I am a difficult-to-get-along-with bastard so maybe I just scare everyone off!
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Re: Theravada Buddhists in the world

Postby Kim OHara » Tue Apr 06, 2010 1:23 am

Hi, Ben,
Ben wrote: Being the smallest recognized religion makes it easy to be the fastest growing!

In much the same way, the Greens are the only party whose vote has never declined from one election to the next - up here in Queensland, anyway.

Ben wrote:Apart from my co-practitioners, I know no other Buddhists (let alone Theravadins) here in Tasmania. And my co-practitioners don't even consider themselves as 'Buddhist'! But then, I am a difficult-to-get-along-with bastard so maybe I just scare everyone off!

I happened to be in Hobart a couple of years ago when the Gyuto monks were visiting and they drew big crowds every day - 30 to 50 for the daily dharma talks and more for the more colourful events - might have been a couple of hundred in the procession for the dissolution of the sand mandala. Admittedly, many would have ben 'just looking' but the interest is definitely there.
I have always thought Aussies are over-represented here because we are often isolated in our practice, but if over 2% of the population is Buddhist and you know more than a hundred people, you almost certainly know a few Buddhists. :smile:

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Re: Theravada Buddhists in the world

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Apr 06, 2010 2:00 am

Greetings,

mikenz66 wrote:I suspect that the proportions of Theravada in Australia/Oceania is seriously overestimated at 50%. Down here the majority of Buddhists are immigrants, and the majority of those are from China and Korea, so unlikely to be Theravada.


Yes. A look at Buddhanet's World Buddhist Directory might be a useful tool for approximate proportions.

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Re: Theravada Buddhists in the world

Postby pilgrim » Tue Apr 06, 2010 3:56 am

1 in 20 Buddhists in China and Japan is Theravada? I think that's highly unlikely. I would put it more at 1 to several thousand.
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Re: Theravada Buddhists in the world

Postby David N. Snyder » Tue Apr 06, 2010 4:07 am

retrofuturist wrote:Yes. A look at Buddhanet's World Buddhist Directory might be a useful tool for approximate proportions.


Yes good idea, the directories can give some indication of the proportions. Many temples and groups will be excluded, but we have no reason to believe that one tradition would be more likely to be excluded than another, thus, supplying something similar to a random sample.

Hi pilgrim,

You're probably right. It is an evolving table that just started today. As I get better information, the numbers will be more accurate. Right now it is a very rough estimate and on the highly optimistic side (for Theravadins). :tongue:
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Re: Theravada Buddhists in the world

Postby pilgrim » Tue Apr 06, 2010 9:03 am

For a start, there should be at least a million Theravadins in Xishuangpanna. But still some way off from 50m. :thinking:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xishuangba ... Prefecture
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Re: Theravada Buddhists in the world

Postby David N. Snyder » Tue Apr 06, 2010 3:19 pm

pilgrim wrote:For a start, there should be at least a million Theravadins in Xishuangpanna. But still some way off from 50m. :thinking:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xishuangba ... Prefecture


Okay, thanks. That and with the additional I "found":

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tai_people ... n_in_China
(Over 23 million Tai people in China, mostly Theravada Buddhist)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shan
(6 million Shan people, mostly Theravada, some living in China)

and we're getting closer to my "conservative" estimate of 33 million Theravada in China. :tongue:
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