Quality & Quantity

, Volume 50, Issue 4, pp 1539–1565 | Cite as

Religion-based urbanization process in Italy: statistical evidence from demographic and economic data



This paper analyzes some economic and demographic features of Italians living in cities containing a Saint name in their appellation (hagiotoponyms). Demographic data come from the surveys done in the 15th (2011) Italian Census, while the economic wealth of such cities is explored through their recent (2007–2011) aggregated tax income (ATI). This cultural problem is treated from various points of view. First, the exact list of hagiotoponyms is obtained through linguistic and religiosity criteria. Next, it is examined how such cities are distributed in the Italian regions. Demographic and economic perspectives are also offered at the Saint level, i.e. calculating the cumulated values of the number of inhabitants and the ATI, “per Saint”, as well as the corresponding relative values taking into account the Saint popularity. On one hand, frequency-size plots and cumulative distribution function plots, and on the other hand, scatter plots and rank-size plots between the various quantities are shown and discussed in order to find the importance of correlations between the variables. It is concluded that rank–rank correlations point to a strong Saint effect, which explains what actually Saint-based toponyms imply in terms of comparing economic and demographic data.


Econophysics Italy Urbanization process Ranking Number of inhabitants Tax income Correlation Hagiotoponyms 



This paper is part of scientific activities in COST Action IS1104, “The EU in the new complex geography of economic systems: models, tools and policy evaluation”. The authors are grateful to Dr. Eleonora Di Cristofaro and Dr. Antonio Caputo for helpful suggestions. All remaining errors are ours.

Supplementary material

11135_2015_220_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (143 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 143 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of ManagementUniversity of LeicesterLeicesterUK
  2. 2.e-Humanities, NKVAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Res. BeauvallonLiège AngleurBelgium
  4. 4.Department of Economics and LawUniversity of MacerataMacerataItaly

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