Belief in witchcraft is particularly prevalent in countries with weak institutions, low social trust, and little innovation, according to the study.
A study published by the scientific journal PLOS Onepoints to a more widespread belief in witchcraft. countries with weak institutions and distrust and fear of authorities.
According to the research, 40% of the population of 95 countries believe that witchcraft exists. That would equal one billion people.
Regional differences are huge. For example, in Sweden only 9% of respondents said they believed, compared to 90% in Tunisia.
High values were also found in Morocco, Tanzania and Cameroon. In Germany it was around 13%, which is relatively low.
Where is Chile?
It is seen that one of the 95 countries considered among the study data is Chile.
According to this, 52% of Chileans believe in witchcraftIt surpassed neighboring countries such as Argentina (44%), Bolivia (32%) and Peru (39%).
A color map showing the differences is also observed.
Russia’s special result
A notable finding was that Russia had a 56% belief rate in witchcraft.
“While this is far from the 90% maximum score, it’s really above average,” said Boris Gershman, an associate professor in the Department of Economics at American University in Washington DC.
“The reasons why the prevalence of witchcraft beliefs is so low in the West also helps to explain why it is high in Russia.”.
“Russia is notorious for corrupt courts and corrupt institutions, including the police, and often dysfunctional central and local governments,” he said. said.
“It is also a country with a high proportion of people who offer a very thin social safety net and are vulnerable to adverse shocks (such as illness and poverty) and therefore try to explain (including attribution) the misfortunes in their lives. Gershman handed them over to supernatural powers such as witchcraft, according to Newsweek.
Witchcraft is by no means a medieval phenomenon: even today women, and especially people with albinism, are targeted and killed for their supposed magical abilities.
So serious is the persecution that last year the United Nations Human Rights Council issued a resolution calling for condemnation of these hurtful practices and attacks.
Belief in witchcraft and its connection to the economy
But until now, there were no global statistical analyzes showing the extent of belief in witchcraft. Economist Boris Gershman has studied this issue.
When asked about it, he explains that as an economist, his involvement in the subject may seem strange at first.
“However, in recent years, economists have realized the importance of understanding culture and its connection to economic behavior,” he explains, and belief in witchcraft is an important part of culture around the world.
Gershman compiled a dataset of more than 140,000 people from 95 countries and territories.
Based on surveys conducted between 2008 and 2017. More than 40% of those surveyed said they believed “specific people can cast spells or curses to cause bad things to happen to someone.”.
Major countries outside the study
However, the global validity of the study is limited: although the regions covered represent about half of the world’s adult population, they do not include information from China, India, and some African countries, and only a few from East and Southeast Asia.
The study notes that regional coverage differences reflect the survey’s focus on countries with predominantly Christian and Muslim populations.
“Despite these limitations, our new dataset makes clear, first, that belief in witchcraft is a global and contemporary phenomenon that is not limited to a select few areas, and second, that prevalence varies significantly both between and within regions of the world.” .
Gershman also noted that while belief in witchcraft is prevalent across all sociodemographic groups, it is less likely among those who are more educated and financially secure.
At the national level, it also depends on a variety of cultural, institutional, psychological and socioeconomic factors.
For example, Belief in witchcraft is particularly prevalent in countries with weak institutions, low social trust, and little innovation.
An earlier work by Gershman He had already suggested that there is a relationship between belief in witchcraft and the erosion of social capital, often used to describe the degree of cohesion in a community.
“It forces you to adapt to local regulations because any deviation can lead to a charge,” the economist said at the time.
This type of fear-based cohesion leads to stagnation and hinders wealth creation and the implementation of innovations, he said.
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