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A Research Note on English-Speaking Buddhists in the United States


Reid J Leamaster, Department of Sociology, Purdue University, 700 West State Street, West Lafayette, IN 47907. E-mail:


Using data from the 2007 Pew Religious Landscape survey (PRLS), which includes over 650 Buddhist respondents (after weighting), this research note examines the usefulness of previously devised typologies for describing the religious and social characteristics of Buddhists in the United States. Existing “two Buddhisms” typologies capture the category breaks of the U.S. Buddhist landscape, with a couple of exceptions: convert Buddhists report higher rates of belief and higher rates of social activity than do those born into the religion. Analysis also shows that three-group typologics capture additional complexity within the U.S. Buddhist landscape. Examination of the social characteristics of Buddhists in the United States mostly corroborates previous assumptions with one exception, women do not outnumber men.