Before 1999 the official number of Falun Gong participants was 70 million across the world, which was about the same as the Communist party. After it was suppressed in 1999 Chinese authorities stated that the numbers had fallen to two or three million practitioners whilst others believed it to be more like 40 million. Falun Gong members themselves suggested the figure was more like 70 to 80 million and other sources claim it is between 10 to 70 members. It is hard to estimate the number of practitioners of Falun Gong within China, but it has been suggested that million of Chinese people practice in private. Surveys carried out across China found that many of those practicing Falun Gong were mainly older and female. Out of the almost 40,000 Falun Gong members surveyed only 27% of them were male and the other 73% were female and 62% were over fifty years old. Many different types of people practiced Falun Gong including young students, intellectuals and people in authority. Surveys carried out within China found that up to 40% of practitioners held a university degree.
In the rest of the world it is estimated that hundreds of thousands of people practice Falun Gong with many of them being part of Chinese communities. Those with high numbers of practitioners are places such as Taiwan and North America and cities such as Taiwan and Toronto. Palmer and Ownby carried out surveys and found that most of the practitioners outside of China are ethnic Chinese and the average age was 40. Taking information from those who took part in the survey revealed that 56% were women and 44% were men and 80% were married. The surveys also found out that most practitioners were highly educated with Master degrees, Bachelor’s degrees and even phDs.
It has been found that the common reasons for practicing Falun Gong include health benefits, the intellect behind the teachings and cultivation exercises. Those not originated from China tended to be seeking spirituality and had practiced a range of teachings such as yoga or religious practices before practicing Falun Gong. Highly educated Scientists from China who practice Falun Gong believe that modern physics and biology offer a scientific basis for their beliefs. To them Falun Dafa is a new kind of science rather than a religion.