Posted on June 21, 2010

AAI has been involved in three decennial censuses and works continually with the Census Bureau to advocate on behalf of the Arab American community through the Census Information Center and the Decennial Census Advisory Committee. AAI makes demographic data available on our website and does custom research on the Arab American community. We continue to work on questions of classification of the Arab American community on the census and encourage the Census Bureau to broaden its options pertaining to ancestry.

Why is the Census Important?

Data from each decennial census affects how federal and state funding (more than $300 billion a year!) is spent in your neighborhood. This money is spent on public health, transportation, education, community development and much more. Additionally, the census is mandated by the Constitution to be used in apportioning seats in the US House of Representatives. It is also used to redistrict state legislatures and school district assignment areas. Making sure that you spend just ten minutes filling out the census ensures that your community will get its fair share of federal and state funding. And remember, the US Census Bureau protects all the information that you share in the census questionnaire; your name, address, etc., will never be shared or used against you by any government agency or court. Please make sure to read What Arab Americans and Chaldeans Need to Know about the Census (PDF).

Census 2010 Arab American Resources

Arab American Census Toolkit

AAI's 2010 Census Toolkit was created to help Arab American community leaders and activists do outreach and encourage participation in the Census. It includes extensive appendices in both English and Arabic and contains useful information about both the 2010 count and ongoing Census issues. We invite you to share this broadly; a print version of the Toolkit is available to download. (40MB PDF)

Census 2010 Arab American Public Service Announcement

AAI launched a Census PSA campaign in February, 2010. The campaign included TV spots, radio spots and print ads in both Arabic and English. The ad campaign was endorsed by 19 organizations representing tens of thousands of Arab Americans across the country. AAI sought to produce a census media campaign that is specific to our community and utilizes trusted Arab American leaders to spread the message about the Census throughout the country. Click here to see all versions of the PSA and the list of endorsing organizations and media partners.




What is the ACS?

The American Community Survey (ACS) is a nationwide survey designed to provide communities with a fresh look at how they are changing through critical economic, social, demographic and housing information. Every year the ACS will provide communities with the same kind of detailed information previously available only from the long form of the U.S. Census. It is sent to a small percentage of the population on a rotating basis throughout the decade. No household will receive the survey more often than once every five years.

In the past, all households received a short-form Census questionnaire, while one household in six received a long form that contained additional questions, including a question on ancestry.The 2010 Census will be a short-form only census and counts all residents living in the United States, asking only 10 basic questions (name, sex, age, date of birth, race, Hispanic origin, family relationship and housing tenure). The ACS, which collects more socioeconomic and demographic information than the short-form Census questionnaire, will continue to ask a question on ancestry or ethnic origin.

For further information on the American Community Survey, please click here

"Race" and "Ancestry" in the Census

Federal data on Arab Americans are derived from a question on ancestry. Between 1980 and 2000, ancestry data was collected on the long form of the decennial census. Since 2005 all long form demographic questions, including ancestry, have been asked on the monthly American Community Survey.

The ancestry question is based on self-identification of up to two ethnic origins. Ancestry refers to a person’s ethnic origin or descent, “roots,” heritage, or place of birth of the person or the person’s parents or ancestors before their arrival in the United States. Some ethnic identities, such as “Egyptian” or “Polish” can be traced to geographic areas outside the United States, while other ethnicities such as “Pennsylvania Dutch” or “Cajun” evolved in the United States.

According to the Office of Management and Budget’s federal guidelines on race and ethnic measurement, persons from the Middle East and North Africa are considered White/Caucasian by race. When filling out the Census, some Arab Americans choose to select “Some Other Race” and write in their ethnicity or countries of origin. Although these responses are tabulated by the Census Bureau, by law they must be reassigned to an existing race category for purposes of published reports, redistricting, etc. AAI is working with the Census Bureau to get access to these Arab responses to “Some Other Race” for research purposes.  

AAI's Census Information Center

The Census Information Centers (CICs) have become an integral part of the U.S. Census Bureau's data dissemination network. The primary focus of a CIC is making census information and data available to underserved communities that may not have access to census data through other means. Started in 1988, the CIC Program is a cooperative venture between the U.S. Census Bureau and national level, community-based organizations and colleges and universities to serve as auxiliary data distribution centers reaching underserved populations. These organizations effectively process and disseminate Census Bureau data to under served population groups in easily understandable formats.

The Census Bureau has designated AAI as its only Census Information Center dedicated to analyzing data on the Arab American community. Please click here for more information on AAI’s CIC or to make a request for custom information on Arab Americans.

Demographic Information

On our website you will find information about Arab American demographics derived from the information provided by the Census Bureau. Updated information and data from the American Community Survey (ACS) will be posted as it becomes available.