Hungarian emigration almost doubles, as youth leave Hungary in droves

The number of Hungarians deciding to emigrate increased by 46% in 2014, compared to numbers compiled for the previous year by Hungary’s Central Statistical Office (KSH). A total of 31,500 Hungarians left Hungary for a minimum of one year, to find work elsewhere. The KSH notes that the ‘real’ number of emigrants is likely higher than this, as statisticians can only use data obtained from people who have voluntarily disclosed to authorities their decision to leave Hungary. Many have clearly moved away, without reporting this, and they are not added to the KSH statistics.

Equally alarming is the news that not only has the number of people leaving Hungary increased by 46% over a single year, but that compared to emigration figures compiled in 2009, the current rate is six times higher than what it was prior to 2010. According to Ágnes Hárs, chief researcher a Kopint Tárki, this brain-drain is all but certain to continue. “The Hungarian economy, public services and the overall mood of the country are not attractive enough to stop this process. The government’s policies around education are also unattractive, which means that the rate of emigration among young, pre-university Hungarians may speed up,” said Ms. Hárs.

According to KSH’s statistics, 77% of Hungarian emigrants are under 40 years of age. Men comprise the majority of these emigrants (54%) and two-thirds of them are single.  The majority of Hungarians who decide to leave Hungary settle in Germany, Great Britain and Austria.

A rendering of the UK flag, referring to the rapidly growing number of Hungarians living in Britain. Hungarians now number over 300,000 in the British capital and are increasingly forming organized diaspora community associations, often through Facebook. Photo: Londoni Magyarok Közösség Facebook group.

A rendering of the UK flag, referring to the rapidly growing number of Hungarians living in Britain. Hungarians now number over 300,000 in the British capital alone and are increasingly forming organized diaspora community associations, often through Facebook. Photo: Londoni Magyarok Közösség Facebook group.

The Hungarian government, however, refuses to see these Hungarians as emigrants, nor as economic migrants. (Some of our readers will recall Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s disparaging reference to economic migrants who arrive to Europe from other parts of the world, suggesting that their “different cultural characteristics” pose a security risk to the European Union following the Charlie Hebdo massacre.) According to Mr. Orbán’s logic, since the EU is an open, economic space where free movement is permitted, those who leave Hungary are simply accepting employment elsewhere within this common area. Mr. Orbán added that immigration and emigration can only refer to people either arriving in, or departing from the European Union.

As evidenced by the KSH’s publication of the most recent emigration-related figures, the Hungarian Central Statistical Office disagrees with the prime minister’s definition.


  1. Avatar Justus Howley says:

    Chris – There is no larger indictment to be made on the orban presidency and ruling philosophy than what’s reported in your article this morning.

    • Avatar Christopher Adam says:


      You are quite right…this is very telling. Although I am generally wary of historical comparisons (and no two situations are identical), I would note that it is, in large part, the dramatic scale of emigration from the German Democratic Republic that led to the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961, and then to the GDR’s collapse in November 1989. In the GDR, those who wanted to leave were forced to stay, while those who would have been happy to return and build a socialist ‘third-way’ type state were essentially exiled. In Hungary, something similar is happening: there are many young, well-educated Hungarians who are not leaving Hungary because they yearn adventure or for pleasure, but because they feel lingering hopelessness at home. Otherwise, they would much prefer to return. At the same time, there is a growing demographic of Hungarians who would need a higher degree of social mobility, language skills and education, in order to build a life elsewhere, yet the government’s educational and social policies are designed to keep these people politically passive, uneducated, socially immobile and — ideally — servile.

  2. Avatar András Gollner says:

    According to Orbán, under his rule, Hungary is performing much better. The performance is very much like those put on by Stalin’s Potemkyn villages. The above statistics are proof, that those who are forced to eat the pudding prepared by him are not swept away but are leaving the table in large numbers. What’s even more telling is that according to the most recent public opinion surveys more than half of Hungary’s youth would prefer to live abroad than in their own country. In politics, Orbán turned the clocks backward and recreated the Horthy era, with it’s own rule of law violations and the elimination of checks and balances. In education and health, two of the most important social policy areas he has done absolutely nothing – the dismal state of affairs that existed before 2010 is even worse now than before. There is a predatory economic regime that operates like a maffia-state, based on privilege, loyalty and kick-backs. The biggest financial fraud in the country’s history was committed under this government’s watch by some of Orbán’s closest friends and supporters. Maybe the trains are running on time in Hungary, like under Mussolini, maybe the economy is growing like it did under Hitler, but one does not judge the merits, the character, the humanity of a regime by its ability to keep the trains running on schedule, but along its ability to respect the dignity of human beings, and according to it’s respect of the rule of law. On the latter, Hungary under Orbán is a dismal failure. Ask the hundreds of thousands who have fled the country or are planning to flee.

  3. Avatar Gyula Bognar, Jr. says:

    Brain drain means, that those who have higher education than the average tend to leave Hungary in larger numbers, leaving the lesser educated and sometimes even the less intelligent behind.
    Therefore the average education level and intelligence continuously drops in Hungary, performance in workplaces drops and it may also be the explanation, why the majority still votes for the Fidesz/KDNP/Jobbik.
    Generally, people with lower level or more distorted, biased education, an affinity to corruption (mental and monetary) and lower intelligence level comprise the majority of victor’s fans. It also seems, that one must be really dumb and stupid, to vote for the KDNP and/or the Jobbik. I left out the MSZP, because I did not want to really degrade their classless voters.

  4. Leaving for the great pleasure of Orban. All of them are well-educated people who are too smart to be controlled, and brainwashed. Let them go, says Orban but whom is he going replace them with? With slaves who don’t think, don’t complain. Let it be a country of ten million yes-man.

    And the education? What about those who are still in the school benches . Here comes the fresh supply. That gotta be ruined as well. As he learned it from his master.

    “He alone, who owns the youth, gains the future.”
    Adolf Hitler.

  5. Avatar Charlie London says:

    Unfortunately any statistic coming out of KSH is suspect.

    Many of their stats cannot be trusted. Even their population stats are untrustworthy – they do not have the required ‘distance’ from the controlling government.

    ‘Gabriella’ is one of Orban’s placemen and the KSH knows what it should publish if it knows what’s good for them.

    If they issued the true figures for the diaspora too many Hungarians would have to face up to the disaster that Orban’s Mafioso are for Hungary.

    If they published the true population figures – ditto.

    Orban gets the KSH to publish a figure that includes all those ‘trianon’ voters outside the borders.

    Because of the lack of transparency and independence ALL statistics are dodgy dodgy dodgy!

    Shame on the EU – Gabriella has been appointed to manipulate Eorostat figures too!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *