Hinduism Today estimates that there are more than 2,290,000 Hindus in the United States. The editors decided to use the percentage of Hindus in India - 81% of the population - and apply that against the total number of Asian Indians in America. Here's an excerpt from the Jan/Feb/March issue of the magazine:
"The 2006 [American Community] Survey, which was released in October, 2007, counted 2,482,141 Asian Indians. This includes those of Indian origin coming from countries such as Trinidad, Kenya, Surinam and Fiji. To update this figure for 2008, we must consider the average annual growth rate for Asian Indians. In the year 2000, the decennial census counted 1,678,765 Asian Indians; the Survey estimated 2,482,141 in 2006, which works out to an annual growth rate of about 6.8 percent. Using that growth rate to extrapolate the 2006 Survey result two years, we calculate 2,831,190 Asian Indians in 2008. Assuming 81% of these Asian Indians are Hindus, just as in India, we conclude that of the 2,831,190 Asian Indians, 2,290,000 are Hindus--qed! But despite the compelling logic of this analysis, Hinduism Today has never seen it published elsewhere. What about the other estimates?"
The article then addresses the problem with the definitive figure, cited by the American Religious Identification Survey, or ARIS:
"This was a telephone survey involving 50,281 households. ARIS concluded that 0.4% of America's population, or about 1.2 million people in 2008, are Hindus. In the absence of a more extensive study, this has become a semi-official number, sustained by the ARIS report's easy availability at the main US Census Bureau website. Before the advent of the American Community Survey, there was no way of challenging ARIS' conclusions. The ARIS report forthrightly acknowledges its limits. It admits, "because the survey depends on telephone interviews, overcoming language barriers has proven prohibitively costly. In effect, this survey has interviewed only the English-speaking population of the US. In addition, many new immigrants originate in societies and states where responding to personal questions over the telephone is an alien experience, and discussions of one's religious beliefs and identification are deemed to be risky."
"The report's conclusion mentions the impressive growth of Hinduism in America, observing, "there are more than three times as many Hindus in the US today as there were in 1990. Undoubtedly, due to the limitations of this study, we have not picked up the full impact of those changes yet." Unfortunately, the ARIS estimate is typically quoted as fact, with no mention of these caveats."
Earlier on SAJAforum: