This survey only confirmed my personal impressions. These were formed in countless meetings with walkers along the path before and after that research, and are valid for the Camino de Santiago as much as for several more pilgrimage routes, including the Via Francigena, that are growing in importance all over Europe on the wake of the Spanish route's success.
Today people start walking for many reasons, and none of them has necessarily a marked prevalence over the others. Sometimes people set off walking out of curiosity, for restlessness, to find answers to questions, sometimes even to find questions to be answered. Spirituality and inner research are very important for lay people too, and walking on a religious pilgrimage is an ideal setting to cater for this particular need. Finally, in this long time of crisis we are going through, walking is an excellent way to answer the crumbling of the cornerstones of Western thought, the uncertainty of the future and the lack of definite points of reference.
Walking brings people back to simplicity, it is an obligation to frugality, each step is an invitation to reconsider your scale of values. Your backpack becomes a symbol of the burden we are to carry on our shoulders in daily life, of how material goods we don't wish to part from become a heavy load. Emptying our backpack, donating a garment or a pair of shoes that are weighing us down, or leaving them at a hostel for the needy becomes an obligatory act, giving immediate relief to our shoulders, making our step lighter.