A recent report of the Central Statistics Office shows that the number of births in the January-November period of 2018 has declined by 1,408 to 82,580 which also probably means that the full-year figure will trail behind the 2017 number of 91,500. But does this mean that the positive demographic trend of the 2010-2016 period is reversing?
Not necessarily. After a low of 1.23 in 2011, the fertility rate rose to 1.49 by 2016-2017 and remained there in 2018 as well. This was the second fastest growth in fertility rates within the European Union and has lifted Hungary to the middle of the field.
Most of the improvement is due to the government’s family policies and the improved performance of the Hungarian economy. But in order to keep the population number level, every woman should have at least two children. No European country can sustain its population without immigration or the higher birth rates of groups coming from other cultures.
At a May 2017 demographic forum Prime Minister Viktor Orbán announced a strong and continued government effort to turn around the demographic decline, where the key figure is reaching a 2.1 birth rate by 2030. But – as Orbán said at the time – even a sustained and consisted family and demographic policy will only yield results over a longer period, just like an ocean liner which only responds slowly to a change in direction.
In a recent radio interview Orbán said the government will further expand the family support and child protection system and even introduce new elements. The ship is turning, but slowly.