pp2my3Want to be canonized as a saint? Then you should probably move to Italy: 46.7 percent of saints lived in that country at the time of their deaths.

That is just one of the many interesting tidbits to be gleaned from a 2010 paper by Barro, McCleary, and McQuoid titled, 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.

Another interesting fact is that after years of service, popes apparently get tired of saint-making:

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.

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  • Charles Hogg

    Perhaps your opening question would be, better, “Want to be canonized as a Roman Catholic saint?” I wonder how the numbers would turn out if we merely examined the first 1,000 years of the church’s history, or compared Roman with Orthodox saints.