Saturday, December 05, 2009

Some statistics on the Western Buddhist Order...

In 2007 the first comprehensive Survey was carried out of the 1,400 members of the Western Buddhist Order.

 This has now been updated and a selection of charts are posted below, examining the growth of the Order (now 1,600 and counting); its gender balance and how this has changed over the past 30 years; its age profile; and finally the absolute numbers of men and women being ordained.

Noteworthy are the continuing decline in younger Order Members (ie those below 40) and the dramatic expansion of the over-60s, also the steady trend towards equality in the numbers of men and women in the Order.

The Western Buddhist Order has always offered the same ordination on equal terms to both men and women, and has always had a policy of women deciding on the ordinations of women (and men on the ordinations of men).  This has not however meant there have always been equal numbers of men and women in the Order: the second chart shows a striking progression in the gender ratio over the past 30 years, from a peak imbalance of  over 5 men to every women, to the present ratio of 1.5:1 (or three men to two women) - with a marked trend towards parity.

The full results from 2007 are on-line at

The age chart especially will be slightly inaccurate due to the facts that (a) it has not been possible to incorporate resigned Order Members; happily there have been relatively few of these over the years; and (b) a number of newly-ordained Order Members are not included in the age profile as we do not yet have their dates of birth.

 This means the numbers of younger Order Members is likely to be slightly understated - there are at least a couple in their twenties, while the chart says zero.

The final chart shows the absolute numbers per year of men and women's ordinations into the Order.  This naturally jumps about as individuals become ready, but the dotted lines show trendlines for each, and a clear growth in the numbers of women joining the Order each year.

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Anonymous DaveP said...

Wow! Only 10% under 40, and none under 30! How about a name that reflects this?

The Order for Retired Buddhists? The Buddhist Order of the Third Age? And the FWBO becomes the Carers of the Buddhist Order of the Third Age (CBOTA)?

If old people knew there was a Buddhist Order specially for them, you'd probably attract a lot of new members, as well as many people from the caring professions!


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