The Imminent Death of Celebrating the Deaths of Non-Celebrities

Dead celebrities fared better and better against other dead persons as the twentieth century progressed, suggests this study of who was celebrated and who was not:

Dead Men Do Tell Tales: The Apotheosis of Celebrities in 20th Century America,”  Timothy J. Bertoni [pictured here] and Patrick D. Nolan, Sociation Today, vol. 10, no. 1, Spring/Summer 2012. The authors, at University of South Carolina, explain:

“We will test our hypothesis with data obtained from the New York Times — “The Newspaper of Record.’ … Celebrity obits increase in all years, reaching 28 percent in 2000, the largest percentage for any category in all times examined…. The increasing prominence of celebrity obits clearly outpaces changes in employment…  After increasing modestly from 1900 to 1950, religious obituaries plummet to zero in 2000, the only occupational category, in any year, to have zero obits…. Manufacturing obituaries peak in 1950, but by the end the century are only a third of the level they were and its beginning. Business and finance obituaries basically hold steady (or increased slightly) from 1900 through 1975, but then drop substantially in 2000.”

 (Thanks to Hugh Henry for bringing this to our attention.)

BONUS: Megan Gannon of Livescience gives her take on the study.

Improbable Research