California

 
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State’s Rank by Arab American Population: 1

Census Estimated Arab American Population: 373,189*

 
 

Growth Trends

The population in California who identified as having Arabic-speaking ancestry on U.S. Census surveys grew by more than 42% between 2000 and 2016. The number of Californians who claim an Arab ancestry has more than doubled since the Census first measured ethnic origins in 1980, and is among the fastest growing Arab populations in the country. The Census Bureau estimates the statewide Arab American population is close to 373,189.*

Immigration

The largest number of new Arab immigrants to California came from Iraq, Egypt and Syria.

How Do Arab Americans Identify Themselves?

Primary Ethnic Identification is derived from responses to the ancestry question on the American Community Survey. Census data on “Arabs” include the responses: Lebanese, Syrian, Egyptian, Iraqi, Jordanian, Palestinian, Moroccan, Arab or Arabic. The following countries are collapsed as “Other Arab”: Algeria, Bahrain, Djibouti, Kuwait, Libya, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.

We also include Arabic-speaking persons who identify as Assyrian/Chaldean, and Somali, or Sudanese, identities that are not aggregated as Arab in Census reports. In California, according to the Census Bureau, the largest components of the Arab American community in the state have Lebanese or Egyptian roots. Since 2010, significant increases appear in the number of Californians who are of Egyptian and Palestinian descent

Where Do California’s Arab Americans Live?

Arab Americans in California reside in 56 of the 58 counties in the state.

*Research by AAI suggests the number above is likely significantly lower than the actual number of Arab Americans in the state. The American Community Survey identifies only a portion of the Arab population through a question on “ancestry.” Reasons for the undercount include the placement and limitations of the ancestry question (as distinct from race and ethnicity); 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.

**Immigration data pulled from the Department of Homeland Security does not include data for Palestinian immigration. AAI has reached out to attempt to gather the data and get a response from DHS but they have declined to do so.

Sources: American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates (2017), American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates (2013-2017), 2000 US Census– U.S. Census Bureau; Yearbook of Immigration Statistics 2009-2016—Office of Immigration Statistics, Department of Homeland Security

©2019 Arab American Institute Foundation.

Arab American Population Growth


Immigrants By Country of Origin** (2009-2016)


Arab American Population by County, 2017

 
 
Firas Nasr