Winners and Losers from COVID-19: Global Evidence from Google Search

43 Pages Posted: 3 Jun 2020 Last revised: 9 Jun 2020

See all articles by Kibrom A. Abay

Kibrom A. Abay

University of Copenhagen

Kibrom Tafere

World Bank - Development Research Group

Andinet Woldemichael

African Development Bank Group

Date Written: June 2, 2020


As COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc across the world, researchers are attempting to quantify the economic fallout from the pandemic as it continues to unfold. Estimating the economic impacts of a prevailing pandemic is fraught with uncertainties about the epidemiology of the disease and the breadth of disruption of economic activities. This paper employs historical and near real-time Google search data to estimate the immediate impacts of COVID-19 on demand for selected services across 182 countries. The analysis exploits the temporal and spatial variations in the spread of the virus and finds that demand for services that require face-to-face interaction, such as hotels, restaurants and retail trade, has substantially contracted. In contrast, demand for services that can be performed remotely or provide solutions to the challenges of reduced personal interactions, such as information and communications technology (ICT), and deliveries, has increased significantly. In a span of three months, the pandemic has resulted in a 63 percent reduction in demand for hotels, while increasing demand for ICT by a comparable rate. The impacts appear to be driven by supply contractions, due to social distancing and lockdown measures, and demand shocks as consumers shelter in place, with the latter dominating for most services. The magnitude of the changes in demand varies considerably with government responses to the pandemic.

Keywords: Pulp & Paper Industry, Food & Beverage Industry, Plastics & Rubber Industry, Business Cycles and Stabilization Policies, Common Carriers Industry, Textiles, Apparel & Leather Industry, Transport Services, International Trade and Trade Rules, Health Care Services Industry, ICT Economics

Suggested Citation

Abay, Kibrom A. and Tafere, Kibrom and Woldemichael, Andinet, Winners and Losers from COVID-19: Global Evidence from Google Search (June 2, 2020). World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 9268, Available at SSRN:

Kibrom A. Abay (Contact Author)

University of Copenhagen ( email )

Nørregade 10
Copenhagen, DK-1165

Kibrom Tafere

World Bank - Development Research Group ( email )

1818 H Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20433
United States

Andinet Woldemichael

African Development Bank Group ( email )

15 Avenue du Ghana
P.O.Box 323-1002

Do you have negative results from your research you’d like to share?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics