The Hungarian government told Breitbart London that it feels that healthy families are more important than economic growth. This comes in light of its launch of a new budget aimed at supporting childbirths and reversing demographic decline.
In February, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said that he intended to “ensure the survival of the Hungarian nation.” He then followed up by introducing new measures, which starting in 2020 will fund a new Family Protection Action Plan. This plan is set to see a 224 billion Hungarian Forints (US$ 800 million) increase in family spending, with a total of 1.26 trillion HUF (US$ 4.5 billion) in subsidies for Hungarian families.
Some of the notable features of this new plan included giving women with four or more children income tax exemption for the rest of their lives and handing free seven-seater vehicles for the more natally-inclined families.
So far, the average number of children per woman in the EU is 1.6 — A figure of 2.1 is considered sustainable. In Hungary it stands at an abysmal 1.45. Even Ireland, Iceland and Sweden – on the higher end of the fertility spectrum are barely close to the required number of 2.1 kids per woman. In addition, 25% of Hungarian pregnancies result in abortion.
A government spokesman, Zoltán Kovács told Breitbart London that there was a clear distinction between Hungary’s approach and those of other European nations. He argued “Europe is at a crossroads. Western Europe seeks to address the problem of demography with simple solutions which only offer short-term success, but convey catastrophic consequences in the long run.”
He continued “What we need is not numbers, but Hungarian children: we’re not seeking to sustain an economic system, but Hungary, the Hungarian nation and Hungarian history; we want to encourage the continuation of our families for several generations.”
Mr. Kovács added that Hungary seeks to export this value system and convince other European countries of the importance of stronger family policy and said: “So the hostility to the childbirth incentives programme stems from the fact that those who want to solve Europe’s demographic problems through migration abhor family policy. The converse is also true: we who want to solve the problems of Europe and our own country through family policy abhor migration.”
One Western European country that has emulated the Hungarian stance is Italy. Populist Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has made it clear that he also supports pro-family policies, with his party proposing legislation that would give free tracts of rural land to Italians with three or more children to help repopulate desolate rural areas.
The increase in Hungary’s family spending comes in stark contrast to countries that took in large numbers of refugees during the migrant crisis like Germany and Sweden which saw record levels of expenditure on asylum seekers in 2018.
Some analysts have suggested that Orbán’s program encouraging family values would have the added benefit of reducing emigration from Hungary, which will further help alleviate the question of demographic decline.