Witchcraft Is on the Rise, Study Suggests


| LAST UPDATE 12/04/2022

By Amie Alfaro
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A new study has been released showing just how widespread the belief in witchcraft is. It shows no signs of slowing down, either. Here's what researchers discovered...

Witchcraft is not a wicked green witch riding on her broomstick, cackling into the night sky about her secret, evil plan. In this study, the belief in witchcraft is “defined as an ability of certain people to intentionally cause harm via supernatural means.” Boris Gershman, the author of the study and an associate professor of economics at American University, believes that based on all the results that he acquired and analyzed, there are about 1 billion people across 95 different countries who believe in witchcraft. Over 9 years, from 2008 to 2017, there were 6 surveys completed by the Pew Research Center across nearly 100 countries, from which China and India were excluded. Of 140,000 individuals interviewed, over 40% claimed to believe in witchcraft. From that number, Gershman believes that the estimated billion people who believe in witchcraft is “an undercount due to the sensitivity of the witchcraft question for at least some respondents.”

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Gershman concludes from everything that he studied and all the data that he collected that “witchcraft beliefs are highly widespread throughout the modern world.” He continues, “At the same time, there are significant differences in their prevalence within and across nations….” For example, he deduced that belief in witchcraft is more widespread where there is a lower level of life satisfaction, a feeling of less control over one’s life, and a greater degree of fatalism, and in countries with weaker governance and institutions. The belief in witchcraft ultimately stems from trying to find an explanation for unfortunate events. It is a coping mechanism that, throughout history, has been a way for people to deal with or explain misfortunes like weather, crop failure, infertility, death, disease, and more.

The belief in witchcraft may be more widespread than once thought based on the research conducted by Gershman. If you are interested in reading the complete study, click here.

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