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In crisis we pray: religiosity and the Covid-19 pandemic

In times of crisis, humans have a tendency to turn to religion for comfort and explanation. The 2020 Covid-19 pandemic is no exception. Daily data on Google searches for 95 countries demonstrates that the Covid-19 crisis has increased Google searches for prayer (relative to all Google searches) to the highest level ever recorded. The rise amounts to a quarter of the fall in Google searches for flights, which fell dramatically due to the closure of most international air transport. Prayer searches rise at all levels of economic status, inequality, and insecurity, but not for the 20% least religious countries. The increase is not merely a substitute for services in the physical churches that closed down to limit the spread of the virus. Instead, the rise is due to an intensified demand for religion: We pray to cope with adversity.

Lead investigator:

Jeanet Sinding Bentzen


Department of Economics, University of Copenhagen

Primary topic:

Attitudes, media & governance

Region of data collection:


Status of data collection


Type of data being collected:

Publicly available

Unit of real-time data collection


Start date


End date