Hungary is stepping up its efforts to reverse its low fertility rate by offering a “$35,000 interest-free, general-purpose loan,” to first time married women under the age of 40. If the women and their husbands have three children, the loan is forgiven completely.
Family is one of the four main planks of a Main Street conservative platform, and President Trump should consider similar ideas for encouraging married American families to have more children. Emma Elliott Freire explains the Hungarian effort at The Federalist, writing:
Like every country in the European Union (EU), Hungary is struggling with a population shortfall due largely to low childbearing rates. Their national fertility rate is currently at 1.49 children per woman, below the EU average of 1.59. Replacement-level fertility requires a rate of around 2.1. The United States’s fertility rate most recently hit a long-term low of 1.7, and has generally not seen birth rates better than replacement level since the 1970s.
In recent decades, Western countries have a poor track record of assimilating foreigners into Western culture and economies. This means such immigrants are often not prepared to contribute to advanced economies, which in many countries has fostered resentment and continued poverty.
Thus, when a wave of more than 1 million migrants arrived in Europe in 2015, Orbán built a wall to keep them from traveling through his country.
Although his anti-immigration policies have drawn enormous criticism and even the threat of legal censure from the EU, Orbán believes Hungary needs to solve its demographic crisis on its own, without immigration. “We do not need numbers, but Hungarian children,” he said in his State of the Nation address in February.
That starts by strengthening families, his party believes. “Everything we do puts family in focus,” says Katalin Novák.
Hungarian voters are clearly fans of his leadership and policies. In 2018, he won his third consecutive election by a landslide. Buoyed by his victory, he announced his most extensive family-support scheme to date: the “Family Protection Action Plan.”
“Between 2002 and 2010, under the Socialist government, the current opposition party, marriages decreased by 23 percent. Since 2010, marriages have increased by 43 percent,” says Novák. She believes if marriage rates go up, more children will inevitably follow. Novák also points out that since 2010, divorces have decreased by 29 percent and abortion in Hungary has fallen to an all-time low.
Hungary is trying to head off forecasted demographic decline that will strain the government budgets and national economies of graying Western nations with large welfare states.
It remains to be seen if politicians in the United States are taking notes.
Read more here.
For its efforts to protect Hungary’s identity, the country has been censured by the European Union. In the speech below, Viktor Orbán responds to Hungary’s critics.