Skip to Content

Stock photo from Pexels

Hungary’s demographic revolution

After the fall of Communism in 1989, few European countries have attempted to raise their fertility rates. However, serious efforts are being made in Hungary, Poland, and most recently Italy to do so.

Published: November 16, 2018, 6:58 am

    Read more

    Hungary has made the most profound and lasting of these changes since Prime Minister Viktor Orban came to power in 2010, implementing various natalist policies.

    Lyman Stone of the Institute for Family Studies has written an comprehensive account of Hungary’s demographic policies and evolution. Stone notes that Orban refounded the political and constitutional framework in Hungary to center on the family.

    Hungary’s constitution includes statements such as, “We trust in a jointly-shaped future and the commitment of younger generations. We believe that our children and grandchildren will make Hungary great again,” and, “We hold that the family and the nation constitute the principal framework for our coexistence,” and “We bear responsibility for our descendants.”

    It also includes committments to Hungary’s historic national heritage, Christian identity, and community values. Moreover, Article L of the constitution states that “Hungary shall protect the institution of marriage as the union of a man and a woman […] and the family as the basis of the nation’s survival. Hungary shall encourage the commitment to have children. The protection of families shall be regulated by a cardinal Act”.

    The country has rejected an typically Western individualist notion of democracy, which sees human beings as atoms, free from a chain of generations. Orban thus calls his country an “illiberal democracy”.

    Since 2011, Hungary has adopted a wide array of measures to boost fertility and support families. Stone points to various measures undertaken by the governing party:

    The Orban family sets an example. Photo supplied

    “First of all, in 2011 and 2012, Hungary changed the structure of their tax exemptions for children, providing new deductions that saved families between $400 and $1 500 on their tax bill per child, depending on how many kids they have.”

    Previous research suggests that increased tax exemption boosts birth rates. It is estimated that the policy change resulted in 6 000 and 18 000 more births from 2011 to 2013.

    Stone notes that support to families has reach an unprecedented level with the introduction of a new family-housing subsidy in 2015.

    In 2015, families were given generous subsidies to buy or build new homes, and the subsidies were scaled based on marital status and the number of children. This “Family Housing Allowance Program,” or CSOK (the abbreviation of the program’s Hungarian name), gives a maximum benefit to married couples with three or more children.

    The sheer scale of these programs is impressive, suggesting that Hungary is certainly motivated to reverse Europe’s demographic decline.

    So far, the effect has been moderately positive. According to Eurostat, the Hungarian fertility rate fell to 1,25 in 2012 (the lowest in the EU) and has since risen to 1,53 as of 2016, a rise of 22,4 percent.

    The Hungarian government argues however that they have seen major progress in restoring families, namely with a marked increase in marriages and decline in divorces and abortions.

    It is true that since 2010, Hungary’s marriage policy has shown real results: by 2017, abortion numbers had dropped by more than a third, from 40 449 to 28 500, divorces saw a marked decline (from 23 873 in 2010 to 18 600 in 2017), and the number of marriages had risen by some 42 percent.

    On top of this, the number of places in crèches has increased by 50 percent. It means that Hungary has managed to turn back the clock on much of the fertility and family-structure transition that demographers have long considered inevitable. Stable marriage is in fact a primary condition for the decision to have children.

    Although Hungary’s fertility rates are still extremely low – only about 1,5 children per woman – the government is spending huge amounts of money towards fertility gains, including tax preferences, cash grants, loan subsidies and constitutional protections.

    These policies may be effective in the long run however, because they are not being used in isolation, but rather together with other measures such as inducing marriage, not simply childbearing. Marriage helps boost long-run fertility, not just birth-timing, Stone notes.

    Recently a national consultation was held, asking Hungarian citizens what they think about various proposals to strengthen the family.

    The government has stated its purpose clearly: “The upcoming national consultation seeks citizen input on the foundations of a powerful family support scheme, hoping to send a straightforward message that Europe cannot be revived without strengthening families.”

    The questions relate to the introduction of full-time motherhood for women raising a minimum of four children, the two-thirds protection of grants provided for families raising children, and the provision of support for family members looking after sick children at home.

    By doing so, Hungary’s declining population will not be remedied by immigration, but rather by more intensive family support measures.

    By way of comparison, it has been observed that it took many decades for Israel’s pro-natalist policies to bear fruit, recently overtaking Arab fertility, which is a remarkable achievement.

    Consider donating to support our work

    Help us to produce more articles like this. FreeWestMedia is depending on donations from our readers to keep going. With your help, we expose the mainstream fake news agenda.

    Keep ​your language polite​. Readers from many different countries visit and contribute to Free West Media and we must therefore obey the rules in​,​ for example​, ​Germany. Illegal content will be deleted.

    If you have been approved to post comments without preview from FWM, you are responsible for violation​s​ of​ any​ law. This means that FWM may be forced to cooperate with authorities in a possible crime investigation.

    If your comments are subject to preview ​by FWM, please be patient. We continually review comments but depending on the time of day it can take up to several hours before your comment is reviewed.

    We reserve the right to del​ete​ comments that are offensive, contain slander or foul language, or are irrelevant to the discussion.

    Europe

    German Teachers’ Association criticizes participation of students in climate strike

    BerlinThe German Teachers' Association (DL) has criticized the participation of students in the climate strike of the "Fridays for Future" movement (FFF) on Friday. "We refuse that compulsory schooling is lifted in favor of political actions – for example as part of a so-called climate strike," said DL President Heinz-Peter Meidinger.

    Norway reclassifies Covid-19: No more dangerous than ordinary flu

    OsloCovid-19 is treated in the mass media as a very dangerous disease in the face of which mass vaccination and severe restrictions for the whole society are applauded despite few deaths beyond the risk groups. But in Norway, it has now been decided to treat it like other respiratory diseases, such as influenza or the cold virus, because according to the Norwegian Institute of Public Health it is no longer more dangerous than these.

    Elysee denies malicious Telegraph article on giving up its UNSC seat

    ParisFrance has formally denied being ready to give the EU its seat on the UN Security Council. "The seat is ours and will remain so," said the Elysee, in response to an article in a British newspaper.

    UK newspaper: France could offer its UN permanent seat to EU

    ParisFrance's seat at the UN could be given to the European Union to promote the creation of an EU standing force after Australia made it clear that it would be pursuing nuclear technology for its submarines together with the US and UK.

    Italy: Nationwide house raids against vaccine opponents

    MilanThe Milan Public Prosecutor's Office has launched searches of anti-vaccination opponents in six Italian cities. Allegedly the members of the Telegram group "The Warriors" planned violent demonstrations against the Covid-19 policy of the Italian government.

    Orban offers Pope copy of 1250 letter in which a Hungarian king pleads for help against Tartar invasion

    BudapestDuring his visit to Budapest on Sunday to celebrate mass, Pope Francis met with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, whose anti-migration policy in Hungary he does not share. The Pope received a copy of a letter reminding him why he should be more circumspect in his views.

    EMA: Almost a third of Covid vaccination side effects are severe

    BrusselsThe reported suspected side effects for the four Covid vaccines, which have only been conditionally approved in the EU, are record-breaking after just 8 months. Serious side effects have been reported.

    Breaking news: UK government drops Covid passport

    LondonIn the UK, Health Minister Sajid Javid has told the BBC that Covid passports will not be introduced in his country. When will European countries come to their senses?

    France: Thousands protest against ‘health pass’ for 9th weekend in a row

    ParisOn Saturday, demonstrators took to the streets in the French capital for the ninth consecutive weekend to express their displeasure with the health passport policy of the Macron administration. The protest quickly degenerated into clashes with the police.

    Key Dutch ministers in bed with the WEF

    The HagueAt the end of May, the Forum for Democracy led by Thierry Baudet, submitted a parliamentary question on the relations between cabinet members and Klaus Schwab's World Economic Forum. "We received evasive or even no answers to these questions," said Dutch MP Pepijn van Houwelingen.

    Go to archive