WASHINGTON: The number of Hindus migrating to the US every year has more than doubled in the last one decade, with an overwhelming majority of them coming from India, a new study released today said.
An average of about 30,000 Hindus were admitted each year in the 1990s, by contrast, the US admitted an estimated 70,000 Hindu immigrants in 2012, the prestigious Pew Research Center said in its latest report on religious affiliation of immigrants released today.
According to the report, the great majority of Hindu immigrants come from India and neighbouring countries with significant Hindu populations, such as Nepal and Bhutan.
The share coming from the Caribbean (or “West Indies”) has decreased significantly, dropping from an estimated 16 per cent of all Hindu immigrants to the US in 1992 to five per cent in 2012, it said.
While Christians continue to make up a majority of legal immigrants to the US, the estimated share of new legal permanent residents who are Christian declined from 68 per cent in 1992 to 61 per cent in 2012.
Over the same period, the estimated share of green card recipients who belong to religious minorities rose from approximately one-in-five (19 per cent) to one-in-four (25 per cent).
“This includes growing shares of Muslims (five per cent in 1992, 10 per cent in 2012) and Hindus (three per cent in 1992, seven per cent in 2012).
“The share of Buddhists, however, is slightly smaller (seven per cent in 1992, six per cent in 2012), while the portion of legal immigrants who are religiously unaffiliated (atheist, agnostic or nothing in particular) has remained relatively stable, at about 14 per cent per year,” the report said.
Notably the US government, does not keep track of the religion of new permanent residents.
As a result, the figures on religious affiliation in this report are estimates produced by combining government statistics on the birthplaces of new green card recipients over the period between 1992 and 2012 with the best available US survey data on the religious self-identification of new immigrants from each major country of origin, Pew said.
Over the past two decades, the US has admitted an estimated 12.7 million Christian immigrants.
The second-largest religious category among legal immigrants is the unaffiliated, which includes atheists, agnostics and people who do not identify with any particular religion.
In recent years, the share of immigrants who have no religious affiliation has held fairly stable, at about 14 per cent. Since 1992, the US has admitted an estimated 2.8 million religiously unaffiliated immigrants, it said.