Demographics Update 2020

In 2008, the Center for Creative Ministry was commissioned by the North American Division to conduct a survey and create a Demographic Profile of the Seventh-day Adventist community in North America. Some of the results of this survey are still widely quoted and circulated today.

Like most surveys, the data came from a sample group selected as randomly as possible – 1,207 people that included both members and minor children. However, there is now another data source that includes a much larger sample – eAdventist contains 1.2 million member records (2020).

Data sample
Demographic Survey 20081,207 people – including members and minor children
eAdventist Membership 20201.2 million members (840k with birth date, 992k with baptism date)

We’ll revisit some key parts of the 2008 Demographic Profile, using eAdventist to provide more current and accurate results, where possible.

Tenure as a Baptized Adventist

The 2008 Profile found that “71% of members in North America have been members for more than 20 years”. This was a dramatic increase over the previous 1990 survey.

eAdventist shows that the 3 survey groups are nearly equally represented. It appears that the 2008 survey may have unintentionally included a higher-than average number of older members.

Age Profile

The 2008 Profile found that “the median age for Seventh-day Adventists in North America is 51” and the sample included unbaptized, minor children. Comparing this to the median age of 36 in the United States (2006) and 35 in Canada (2007) indicated “a significant trend toward the ‘graying of Adventism’ in North America”.

eAdventist shows that the median age for members (not including unbaptized, minor children) 42 in 2008 and is 47 in 2020. Over the same time period, the median age for the United States has risen from 36 to 38.4 (2019).

It’s worth noting that children age 0-10 make up more than 10% of the US population (2010 US Census), but very few are baptized members. Taking this into account would put the median age for members much closer to the median for the general population than the 2008 Profile indicated.

This also indicates that the selection for the 2008 survey most likely included some unintended “selection bias” toward older members.

Age by Generations

The 2008 Profile found “the ‘graying of Adventism’ even more starkly apparent when the age data is displayed by generations”. The generation categories used included:

  • Pre-Boomer – born in 1945 or earlier
  • Baby Boomer – born from 1946 to 1964
  • Generation X – born from 1965 to 1976
  • Millenial – born from 1977 to 1994

Naturally, a significant number of the Pre-Boomer generation have passed since 2008 but eAdventist shows a significantly higher number of members in both the Gen X and Millenial generations – plus a growing number of the Post-Millenial generation.

This further indicates that the 2008 survey sample most likely included more “gray” than it should have.

Marital Status

The 2008 Profile found that “nearly 2/3 of members are currently married”.

eAdventist shows that about 1/2 of members are currently married and almost 3 times as many are single. The 2008 survey’s higher numbers for “married” and “widowed”, along with much lower number for “single” seems to indicate that young adults were under-represented in the 2008 survey sample.

Other categories and trends

The 2008 Profile included a wealth of information that is not captured in eAdventist membership records, such as:

  • Attendance in last 4 Sabbaths
  • Children in the family
  • Immigrants
  • Ethnicity
  • Residence – metro/rural
  • Annual household income
  • Occupation
  • Education
  • Religious background
  • Adventist periodicals

Until another Demographic Profile is commissioned, the 2008 Profile is definitely still worth mining. It’s available at:

The eAdventist team

See also Good News for Endangered Adventists.

1 comment on “Demographics Update 2020

  1. Monte Sahlin

    We did an updated demographic survey for the North American Division in 2018 with a sample about twice the size of the 2008 study. I wish we had been able to have access to the eAdventist list both times. You can get a copy of the most recent study at … the website of the Center for Creative Ministry.

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