Journal Article

Assessing and Updating the Schoenherr-Young Projections of Clergy Decline in the United States Roman Catholic Church

Lawrence A. Young

in Sociology of Religion

Published on behalf of Association for the Sociology of Religion

Volume 59, issue 1, pages 7-23
Published in print January 1998 | ISSN: 1069-4404
Published online January 1998 | e-ISSN: 1759-8818 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/3711962
Assessing and Updating the Schoenherr-Young Projections of Clergy Decline in the United States Roman Catholic Church

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This paper assesses the projections of clergy decline made by Schoenherr and Young in Full pews and empty altars (1993) in light of current population figures collected by the Official Catholic Directory for 1995 (Kenedy 1996). It finds that the “moderate” Schoenherr-Young projections slightly underestimate the number of Catholic priests by less than 1 percent. Taking this as validation of the demographic models used in the projections, this paper extends projections of the priest population to 2015. These projections predict that by the year 2015, the priest population will have declined by roughly 45 percent from its 1966 levels. The paper also assesses predictions at the diocesan level utilizing the newly constructed Standardized Projection Error measure. This analysis demonstrates that the Schoenherr-Young projection models are also accurate in the large majority of individual dioceses.

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Subjects: Religion ; Sociology of Religion

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