Hungary is an interesting case-study in family friendly policy. Rather than adopting the short-term solution of attracting more and more migrants to solve the population woes it shares with most of Europe, Hungary is attempting a long-term approach. It wants to preserve the culture of its people by encouraging and supporting Hungarian families to have babies.
The average European woman has just 1.6 children, and the average Hungarian woman has just 1.45. Back in February, Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orban, announced a seven-point “Family Protection Action Plan” designed to promote marriage and families, and ensure that the government is providing the support that families actually say they need.
It marked a continuation of his government’s commitment to family-centric policy, after winning a third consecutive election by a landslide in 2018.
Under the Family Protection Action Plan, women younger than 40 who are getting married for the first time can receive a $35,000 interest-free, general-purpose loan. If her family goes on to have three children, the loan is forgiven.
Families were able to start receiving these loans for the first time at the beginning of last month. According to the Hungarian State Treasury, early results are encouraging, with approximately 2,400 families applying for the loan within two weeks of its debut.
In an interview with Fox News' Tucker Carlson earlier this year, Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó explained the rationale behind his country's new pro-family policies:
We understand very well that if we are not able to turn around the negative trend of demographics … then we will definitely not win the future. And we want to win the future, so we need more kids. We need to turn around the negative tendencies, so we have put together an action plan — we have formulated our economic policy in this direction. So the question in families whether to be brave enough to have another kid must not be an economic decision anymore.
It remains to be seen whether Hungary will be able to boost its shrinking population through family friendly measures. In the meantime, Hungarian families are enjoying a society which values their parenthood and the next generation.
Shannon Roberts is co-editor of Demography is Destiny, MercatorNet's blog on population issues.