Instead of choosing immigration to reverse Hungary’s long-standing downward demographic trend, the country’s ruling conservative Hungarian government instead chose a society and economy conducive to higher birth rates when it first came to power in 2010.
That approach now appears to be working, with the Hungarian government continuing to implement pro-family policies even as the coronavirus crisis ravages Europe.
“In 2010, we started to build a family-friendly country… Our main goal is to eliminate the burdens that couples face when they would like to have children,” said Katalin Novák, State Secretary for Family, Youth, and International Affairs to Breitbart in an interview. The 42-year-old Novák, a lawyer by training and since 2017 the vice-president of the ruling conservative Fidesz party, has three children.
“The recent demographic figures speak for themselves, the number of marriages is at its 40-year high, the fertility rate at its 20-year high, while the divorces haven’t been as low as last year in the last six decades,” she added.
Eduard von Habsburg, Hungary’s ambassador to the Holy See, also touted the big year-on-year rise in births due to Hungary’s pro-family policies on social media.
Ready for some good news? The (much-ridiculed) ?? Hungarian family politics is showing results! in January 2020 9.4 % more births than last year, almost 100% more marriages, and children per woman from 1.4 to 1.6!https://t.co/Ezhbs0W2GI
— Eduard Habsburg (@EduardHabsburg) April 3, 2020
Novák said during a press conference this week that “the government will continue supporting families during the coronavirus epidemic,” with the state secretary also acknowledging the challenges the coronavirus poses every family.
She also added during the press conference that family support measures would remain in place, including the CSOK home subsidy, construction of new daycare facilities, and financial support for car purchases. She also said parental leave will be extended during the state of emergency and new programs would be implemented, including job retraining, student loans for adults and a lifting of employee contributions in certain career paths.
“Thanks to the Family Protection Action Plan, the government is giving 800 billion forints back to families,” the state secretary said.
Supporting families instead of mass migration
Novák said when Hungary launched its long-term demographic program, the international mainstream was critical to the point of ridiculing the move, especially Hungary’s decision to rely on native births instead of mass immigration.
Since then, Hungary’s pro-family program has demonstrated that relying on domestic resources was in fact a smart move.
“The Hungarian point of view is that we have to rely on our internal resources, namely supporting families and enabling young couples to have children. The other approach says that there is overpopulation in one half of the world, while there is a population decline in the other, so let’s just simply balance the difference,” she said. “[We] are lectured and stigmatized simply because we took a path that is different from the mainstream… [and] exposed to continuous attacks for years, but facts are facts, our results are clear, and we also enjoy the support of the Hungarian people.”
Novák also offered a tactful rebuke to the Swedish government, which took the extraordinary decision to summon the Hungarian ambassador when the most recent package of pro-family policies were announced, claiming they “reeked of the 1930s”.
“After the outrageous statement of their family minister, many Swedish people assured me that they would very much welcome such a supportive pro-family policy package in their own country,” Novák said.
“I won’t teach lessons to other governments, but I await them to give us the same respect.”
Title image: Dóra and Márton Joób, a couple from the south Hungarian town of Szeged with their nine children. (source: nlc.hu)