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Hungary’s aging deemed irreversible

October 19th, 2019

A leading demographer finds it unlikely that the Hungarian demographic decline can be reversed. He suggests that as a result, the retirement age must be raised.

In an interview with Portfolio, Zsolt Spéder, the chief demographer at the Central Statistical Office contends that Hungary’s demographic decline will continue in the coming decades. According to Spéder’s calculation, the birth rate may rise but is unlikely reach the 2.1 per cent replacement level aimed at by the government. Even if emigration trends are reversed, and a significant number of those who left the country return, Hungary’s population may sink to 8.75 million by 2040, he calculates. What this means for public policy, is that sooner or later the retirement age will have to be raised, he suggests. This would require targeted policies to improve the health of an ever older working population –  if not, Hungarians will simply not be physically capable of working longer years, Spéder concludes.