A recent survey conducted by the Pew Research Center indicates that more than 40% of people worldwide believe in witchcraft, though belief in this supernatural concept varies significantly among nations. For instance, only 9% of people in Sweden adhere to this belief, whereas over 90% of individuals in Tunisia believe in malevolent powers. The notion of witchcraft has deep historical roots and can be found in various cultures, including the oldest cave art in England and ancient curse tablets.
The survey analyzed data collected over six waves between 2008 and 2017, with a sample of 140,000 respondents from 95 countries across five continents. The researchers estimated that approximately 1 billion people worldwide hold beliefs in witchcraft. Interestingly, women, urban residents, and younger individuals were more likely to subscribe to these supernatural beliefs, whereas education, financial security, and smaller household size were associated with lower belief in witchcraft. However, the study also found that witchcraft beliefs were present across the educational and socioeconomic spectrum, with only marginal differences among economic situations.
Religious beliefs and witchcraft beliefs tend to go hand in hand, as both focus on the role of supernatural powers in life. Additionally, countries with weak institutions, low social trust, and a greater emphasis on conformity were more likely to have higher belief in witchcraft. This pattern aligns with past research on American Indigenous people in the Navajo Nation, suggesting that belief in witchcraft may serve as a tool of social control in societies where formal governance structures are weak or absent. Overall, the survey sheds light on the prevalence and cultural factors influencing beliefs in witchcraft across the globe.