Arab-Americans join in a traditional dance during the sixth annual Arab-American Heritage Festival in Brooklyn in 2011.
Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images
One-and-a-half million Americans today claim Arab ancestry, according to a new Census Bureau report.
That’s less than 1 percent of the total U.S. population.
Still, Maryam Asi, a demographer at the Census Bureau who co-wrote the report, says the Arab-American community is “growing,” with a 76 percent increase since 1990 and 25 percent increase since 2000.
Some advocates of the Arab-American community, however, have raised questions about whether these numbers reflect the actual size of the population.
“The census under counts our community. It always has,” says Maya Berry, executive director of the Arab American Institute, an advocacy group based in Washington, D.C.
Berry’s organization estimates the total Arab-American population to be closer to 3.6 million — more than double the Census Bureau’s latest estimate. That number is based in part on research by polling firm Zogby International, according to the Arab American Institute’s website.
Reasons for the discrepancy between the estimates, the Arab American Institute claims, may include:
” … the placement of and limit of the ancestry question (as distinct from race and ethnicity) [on the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey]; the effect of the sample methodology on small, unevenly distributed ethnic groups; high levels of out-marriage among the third and fourth generations; and distrust/misunderstanding of government surveys among recent immigrants”.