The Economics of Sainthood

Barro, McCleary and McQuoid have a new paper, The Economics of Sainthood (a preliminary investigation)

Saint-making has been a major activity of the Catholic Church for centuries. The pace of
sanctifications has picked up noticeably in the last several decades under the last two popes, John
Paul II and Benedict XVI. Our goal is to apply social-science reasoning to understand the
Church’s choices on numbers and characteristics of saints, gauged by location and socioeconomic
attributes of the persons designated as blessed.

I couldn't help laughing at sentences such as these:

Another result is the significantly negative coefficient on pope’s tenure, given by the
coefficient -0.0229 (s.e.=0.0095) in Table 3, column 1. This result implies that a one-standard deviation
increase in tenure (8.5 years in Table 2) reduces the canonization rate by 0.2 per year.
Thus, there is a little evidence that popes experience saint-making fatigue as their tenure in office
lengthens.

Saint-making fatigue; who knew?

Comments

They don't seem to be looking at canonization per capita.

Barkley,

The first time I read it I thought exactly as you did but on closer reading it says "thus, there is *a* little evidence." I agree that a well-worded sentence should not change its meaning with one letter.

If saint-making is political then I would expect to see a decline in the annual rate over a pope's tenure. He would naturally speed up the process for his favorites upon assuming office, and it would slow down after that.

Did I miss where this was explained? Who are the other 10%?
They were lays like the last Austro- hungarian emperor or the Queen Elizabeth

He would naturally speed up the process for his favorites upon assuming office, and it would slow down after that.
Sir, the process begin 10 years after the death of the person so it will require real faith to expect a payback from the beneficiary.
Tyler Cowen do a good explanation in What Price Fame?

k,

Sir, the process begin 10 years after the death of the person so it will require real faith to expect a payback from the beneficiary.

No, I don't think the benefit will come from the newly canonized saint. I was speculating that certain candidates are the favorites of various factions in the hierarchy, because of what they represent, and a new pope might take the opportunity to push certain candidates for that reason. It's a cynical view, I know.

My point was they can give , they can take away. Sometimes with valid reasons.
Cowen says that , today is easier , for the same reason there were more medals awarded than soldiers in the Gulf War

In the Catholic church a saint is a person that is in heaven. Canonization is the recognition of a person as a a saint. The phrase
"saint making" reflects either a lack of understanding or an intent to offend, neither of which is a particuarly appealing quality.

The phrase "saint making" reflects either a lack of understanding or an intent to offend

As the paper notes, the rate of saint making has grown dramatically since John Paul II reformed the canonization process in 1983 by decentralizing the process, shortening the length of time a person has to be dead before being canonized and essentially abolishing the office of advocatus diaboli or devil's advocate. That process sounds pretty man-made to me unless God had a change of heart around 1983.

As Christopher Hitchens notes, he had to represent the devil pro bono in the case against canonizing Mother Theresa due to John Paul II's reforms.

As Brad and zbicyclist suggest, it's important to be clear on what precisely the good here is supposed to be. Canonization is not 'saint-making'; it is instead entry of a person into a canonical liturgical calendar. Entry into the calendar regularizes the celebration of memorial days for everyone operating according to that calendar. One reason that this is important is that the Catholic Church has more than one liturgical calendar. Usually when we talk about canonization we are talking about the liturgical calendar of Rome itself, which serves as a universal template. There are, however, other calendars: there are people entered on local calendars who are not on the universal calendar. (It is this that partly drives the distinction between beatification and canonization, for instance.) In addition to the ordinary local calendars, there are non-Roman liturgical calendars. Eastern Catholics, who are in communion with Rome but are self-governing for most ecclesiastical matters, have their own canonical liturgical calendars, and it is not uncommon for these calendars to have saints that are not on the Roman calendar; the saints in question are Eastern Orthodox saints who were kept on the calendars when the Eastern Catholic body re-affiliated, so to speak, with Rome.

The politics of canonization is in effect a politics of public holidays, and one would expect the economics and politics of canonization to be analogous to the economics and politics of proclamations of holidays by secular governments. (What would be really interesting to see is whether they differ in any remarkable way.)

The paper is about practices of the Catholic Church. In the Catholic Church sainthood and canonization are not synonyomus. A Saint is someone who has led a life in union with God and been rewarded with eternal life. Canonization is a process in which someone is officially recognized as having led such a life and is, therefore, worthy of emulation. If people did not beleive that someone was a Saint before they were canonized they would not aske them to interced on their behalf and there wouldn't be anything to document for the canonization process. Obviously canonization requires the allocation of scarce resources, but it is not saint-making. This isn't about whether or not you beleive it. Its about whether people want to understand what they claim to explain

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The politics of canonization is in effect a politics of public holidays, and one would expect the economics and politics of canonization to be analogous to the economics and politics of proclamations of holidays by secular governments. (What would be really interesting to see is whether they differ in any remarkable way.)

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