IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Saints Marching In, 1590-2009


  • Robert J. Barro
  • Rachel M. McCleary


The Catholic Church has been making saints for centuries, typically in a two-stage process featuring beatification and canonization. We analyze determinants of rates of beatification and canonization (for non-martyrs) over time and across six world regions. The research uses a recently assembled data set on numbers and characteristics of beatifieds and saints chosen since 1590. We classify these blessed persons regionally in accordance with residence at death. These data are combined with time-series estimates of regional populations of Catholics, broadly-defined Protestants, Orthodox, and Evangelicals (mostly a sub-set of Protestants). Regression estimates indicate that the canonization rate depends strongly on the number of candidates, gauged by a region's stock of beatifieds who have not yet been canonized. The beatification rate depends positively on the region's stock of persons previously canonized. The last two popes, John Paul II and Benedict XVI (the only non-Italians in our sample), are outliers, choosing blessed persons at a much higher rate than that of their predecessors. Since around 1900, the naming of blessed persons seems to reflect a response by the Catholic Church to competition from Protestantism or Evangelicalism. We find no evidence, at least since 1590, of competition between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches.

Suggested Citation

  • Robert J. Barro & Rachel M. McCleary, 2011. "Saints Marching In, 1590-2009," NBER Working Papers 16769, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16769
    Note: EFG LS PE

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Rausch Sebastian & Metcalf Gilbert E. & Reilly John M & Paltsev Sergey, 2010. "Distributional Implications of Alternative U.S. Greenhouse Gas Control Measures," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 10(2), pages 1-46, July.
    2. Burtraw, Dallas & Sweeney, Richard & Walls, Margaret, 2009. "The Incidence of U.S. Climate Policy: Alternative Uses of Revenues From a Cap-and-Trade Auction," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 62(3), pages 497-518, September.
    3. Kevin A. Hassett & Aparna Mathur & Gilbert E. Metcalf, 2009. "The Incidence of a U.S. Carbon Tax: A Lifetime and Regional Analysis," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 2), pages 155-178.
    4. Fullerton Don & Heutel Garth, 2011. "Analytical General Equilibrium Effects of Energy Policy on Output and Factor Prices," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 10(2), pages 1-26, January.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Becker, Sascha O. & Pfaff, Steven & Rubin, Jared, 2016. "Causes and consequences of the Protestant Reformation," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 1-25.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • N10 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • Z1 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics
    • Z12 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Religion


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16769. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.