Social Security Data Points to Growth in 2nd-Generation Muslim Population

By David North on January 5, 2016

Given the fact that some U.S.- or European-born Muslim terrorists (such as Syed Farook in San Bernardino) have been menacing Western societies, are there any statistics on the growth of the second-generation Muslim populations?

About a tenth of the total flow of new immigrants and about three tenths in the diversity lottery are from predominantly Muslim countries. But how about the next generation, the ones born here? Our government, unlike many in Europe, religiously avoids counting people by religion, so we must look for indirect measures.

One such indirect measure doesn't shed light on the size of the second-generation Muslim population but is suggestive of its growth, which has been huge over the last 50 years, based, admittedly, on a small base. And the data source is a highly reliable government system.

I am referring to the Social Security Administration's count of the names of newborn babies in the United States. A boy named Mohammed (or with one of a dozen other spellings) born here is likely to grow up in a Muslim environment and, at the same time, be a U.S. citizen. So we can get a rough proxy of the growth of the population of second-generation Muslim immigrants by noting how many of them carry these names. (Third-generation babies are also included.)

The figure below shows the huge growth in this population over the last 50 years, but bear in mind that only 29 baby boys bore these names in 1964. By the year 2014 the number had soared to 2,931, a more than 100-to-one ratio.

Babies Born in the U.S. Named Mohammed (various spellings)

Note the drop after 2001, presumably a reaction to the events of 9/11, and then the sharp increase from 2004 to 2014, of more than 1,000.

The 2014 totals for the various spellings are: Muhammad, 773; Mohamed, 711; Mohammed, 561; Mohammad, 468; Muhammed, 106; Mohamad, 85; Mahmoud, 75; Mamadou (West Africa), 51; Mehmet, 34; Muhamed, 23; Muhamad, 21; Mahamed (Somalia), 13; and Mahmud, 10.

When a name is used fewer that five times it is not published by Social Security for privacy reasons. Since that is the case, the upward curve shown from 1964 to 1994 is sharper than it is in reality because some of the less-used names did not have enough examples in those early years. Data on baby names can be seen here.

NOTE: in an earlier version of this blog I had said that Mark Krikorian had written "more than half of those in the visa lottery are from predominantly Muslim countries." That was an inaccuracy on my part. I should have quoted him saying that the lottery "was the source of a disproportionate share of Muslim immigration." In fact, people from predominantly Muslim countries accounted for about 40 percent of the lottery population in 2010 and in 2013, after Bangladesh had been dropped from the program, the percentage was about 30 percent, making no allowance in either year for Muslim immigration from non-Muslim-majority countries.