Hungary’s population woes and some bizarre ideas from Fidesz’s Christian Democratic partner

Hungary’s governing party has long been concerned with the country’s demographic decline–and Hungarian political leaders have good reason to worry. In 2005, Hungary’s population stood at 10.1 million. A decade later, at the end of 2015, the Hungarian Central Statistical Office (KSH) estimates the total population at 9.8 million. The fact that 67% of Hungarian students told pollsters that they would want to emigrate and work abroad should be cause for alarm. Spread across all demographic cohorts, 15% of the Hungarian population indicated they would like to leave Hungary, many of them permanently. Equally problematic is the fact that in the first 10 months of 2015, the number of deaths relative to the number of live births increased markedly, which means that Hungary’s population declined by over 33,000. This is a much steeper drop that in the same period in 2014.

Hungary's population peaked at 10.7 million in 1980 and has been declining ever since.

Hungary’s population peaked at 10.7 million in 1980 and has been declining ever since.

Hungary’s Christian Democratic People’s Party (KDNP), a small clerical right-wing party that owes all of its parliamentary mandates and its political survival to its larger big brother, Fidesz, is known for irking even many supporters of the current government by its finger-wagging, moralizing, holier-than-thou brand of politics. So its proposed “solutions” to Hungary’s demographic decline will likely be irritating to a large cross-section of the public.

For instance, a youth group affiliated with KDNP had the nerve to suggest taxing those men and women who have reached a specific age, yet are still single and without kids, regardless of their specific circumstances. When the news first broke, it sparked such derision even among those who support the government, that KDNP distanced itself from the proposal, went to great lengths to point out that the idea was that of a small local youth group, and not that of KDNP itself, and that anyone who claimed otherwise could expect a lawsuit.

But as Index pointed out on Wednesday, KDNP has lots of hair-raising ideas sitting on the back shelf. For instance, an internal study leaked to the HVG weekly paper does, indeed, mention the possibility of levying a special tax against all those Hungarians who are over 30 years of age, and have no children. The funds collected from the special tax could be used to encourage women to work only part-time, as opposed to having full-time careers, in order to have them spend more time at home with, hopefully, more children.

The internal document also proposes that the state provide single Hungarians “assistance” in finding a life partner (the Hungarian government would effectively run a dating service), young women just starting university would be given scholarships, if they marry early and become a mother and the creepiest idea is to appoint a “commissioner” in workplaces, in order to ensure that women between 35 and 42 years of age are not “overworked.” As well, the government would, according to this plan, launch a massive media blitz encouraging women who are 40 or above to still consider giving birth.

This study notes that the generation of women between 35 and 42 years of age is critical, because this is the last large cohort of Hungarians. (Hungary’s population peaked at 10.7 million in 1980.)

Those above 65 years of age already outnumber Hungarians who are still under 15. A dramatically shrinking and ageing population does not bode well for Hungary’s future and the flight of young Hungarian university graduates makes a bad situation even worse.



  1. Apage Satanas!

  2. Just as the “Holy Roman Empire” was neither holy, Roman, nor an empire, Hungary’s “Christian Democrat Party” is neither christian nor democratic. It’s not much of a party either, or picnic…

    Much better if Hungarians reproduce less and help one another more — not like their elected government, though, who are just helping themselves to their tax-payers’ (and EU tax-payers’) money.

    And bravo to the Hungarians who are leaving: If the majority hasn’t the sense to vote out the cynical band of swindlers running and looting the country, let the minority with sense vote with their feet.

  3. Avatar Charlie London says:

    “The KSH estimates the total population at 9.8 million.”

    The KSH’s figures must be treated with a pinch of salt – their statistics have been open to question ever since the head was sacked and ‘Gabriella’ installed by Orban.

    Country’s statisticians must operate at arms-length to a government and be independent if their output is to be trusted.

    KSH figures on the economy, overseas workers and population are deeply political in Hungary and are regarded with suspicion.

    The KSH lumps overseas workers in its own employment figures and the estimates for workers working in other EU countries are very low.

    I believe the population numbers are deeply suspect.

    Much lower.

  4. Avatar Charlie London says:

    And btw!

    Many structural and cohesion funds are awarded, based on population size.

    Orban wouldn’t artificially keep the numbers high to receive more funds now would he?

    More funds to embezzle, like farming subsidies.

    No, of course not.

    No, no, no definitely not.


  5. I doubt the Hungarians would want to stop the population decline with this merry bunch of “cultural enrichers”

  6. The fact remains, Hungary is not a place where young people want to stay, because of limited career prospects – just ask young Hungarians or even migrants entering the EU. This is not a cynical view, this is the reality on the ground.

    Indeed, Hungary can almost be conceptualized as a microcosm illustrating what is happening globally: The trend of retirees outnumbering youth entering the labour force afflicts almost all ‘first world’ industrial economies. And, the only populations still ‘booming’ are found in ‘third world’ / ‘second tier’ economies.

    Here’s an honest question – What does this global population trend mean? The world population is steadily climbing to 8 billion (all the growth is happening in the ‘third world) and the cost of living and career prospects in the most developed economies leave much to be desired. Not everyone can be a lawyer, doctor, academic (full tenure, no less!), or venture capitalist.

    Strangely, we want peoples from ‘third world’ countries to come to ‘first world’ countries, to help alleviate projected tax burdens; and yet, the job prospects in ‘first world’ countries are not good:

    The fastest growing industries are technological, and require very little manpower to maintain. Look at Uber – a billion dollar venture, that is little more than a digital application. Or Google – a search engine that mines all kinds of data with advanced computing algorythms (work done by a machine, not men) and then the data is sold to marketers, advertisers and governments for a ludicrous profit margin. – And then there’s the problem that these enormously wealthy corporations evade taxes, hold the public’s privacy in contempt, and DO NOT reinvest their enormous profits in society…

    As manufacturing and labour become increasingly automated (meaning there’s less of a need for manpower), and as world populations grow (meaning there’s more of a need for jobs), the end-game looks very curious to say the least. Hungary just stands in for the writing on the wall.

Leave a Reply

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