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Therapies for demographic decline

November 13th, 2018

A conservative and a left-wing analyst agree that Hungary is facing rapid demographic decline. They offer diametrically opposing remedies, however, to depopulation.

Last week, as part of a new round of ’national consultations’, the government sent a questionnaire on family values and subsidies to all households. According to a report published by the Central Statistical Office, the population of Hungary may sink to 6 million by 2070. In his regular Friday interview on Kossuth Rádió, PM Orbán said that his government intends to help young Hungarian families have as many children as they want.

In Magyar Idők, Katalin Botos welcomes the government’s efforts to stop the demographic decline, and calls for a return to traditional family values. The conservative economist accuses Marxist, liberal and feminist ideologies of weakening traditional values. Botos argues that liberal ideology focusing on individual freedom made commitment and obligations towards children and spouses less important. Botos does not advocate a ban on abortion, but claims that the liberalization of abortion rules undermines families. If mothers have the option to abort, their decision to keep babies may be used by fathers to renege on their own responsibility towards their children, claiming that it was the mother’s free individual decision to keep the baby. Botos concludes by reiterating that Hungary’s loss of population can only be reversed through traditional family values.

In Népszava, Balázs Böcskei describes the government’s national consultation on families as a publicity stunt. The left-wing analyst accuses the government of using the ‘national consultation’ to promote its conservative ideology rather than trying to learn about Hungarian families’ real needs. Böcskei recalls that according to different surveys, young Hungarians decide to have less kids than they wish as a result of welfare and economic considerations. In order to boost the birth rate, the government would need to strengthen equality and increase welfare spending, which, Böcskei’s asserts, have been significantly cut back by the government since 2010.