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Jurić, Tado
[Journal:] Athens Journal of Mediterranean Studies [ISSN:] 2407-9480 [Volume:] 7 [Issue:] forthcoming
Understanding how people react to the COVID-19 crisis, and what the consequences are of the COVID-19 pandemic is key to enable public health and other agencies to develop optimal intervention strategies. Because the timely identification of new cases of infection has proven to be the key to timely respond to the spread of infection within a particular region, we have developed a method that can detect and predict the emergence of new cases of COVID-19 at an early stage. Further, this method can give useful insights into a family's life during the pandemic and give the prediction of birth rates. The basic methodological concept of our approach is to monitor the digital trace of language searches with the Google Trends analytical tool (GT). We divided the keyword frequency for selected words giving us a search frequency index and then compared searches with official statistics to prove the significations of results. 1) Google Trends tools are suitable for predicting the emergence of new COVID-19 cases in Croatia. The data collected by this method correlate with official data. In Croatia search activities using GT for terms such as "PCR +COVID", and symptoms "cough + corona", "pneumonia + corona"; "muscle pain + corona" correlate strongly with officially reported cases of the disease. 2) The method also shows effects on family life, increase in stress, and domestic violence. 3) Birth rate in 2021 will be just 87% of what it would be "a normal year" in Croatia. 4) This tool can give useful insights into domestic violence. Unquestionably, there are still significant open methodological issues and the questionable integrity of the data obtained using this source. The fact is also a problem that GT does not provide data on which population was sampled or how it was structured. Although these open-ended issues pose serious challenges for making clear estimates, statistics offer a range of tools available to deal with imperfect data as well as to develop controls that take data quality into account. All these insights show that GT has the potential to capture attitudes in the broad spectrum of family life themes. The benefit of this method is reliable estimates that can enable public health officials to prepare and better respond to the possible return of a pandemic in certain parts of the country and the need for responses to protect family well-being.
Google trends
birth rates
domestic violence
predicting demographic trends
Published Version


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