As part of a national effort to increase the birth rate of Hungary, Prime Minister Viktor Orban announced that the government would exempt mothers of four or more children from paying income tax for life. As added incentive, the prime minister also offered reduce mortgage payments for those with children, offered state aid in purchasing larger family vehicles, included grandparents in paid maternity leave, added day care options, and introduced new loans available for families.
CNA reports the population situation is looking dire in Hungary, where the fertility rate has dropped to 1.45 children per woman. In order for a population to be considered sustainable, it needs a fertility rate of 2.1 children per woman.
In 2017, it was estimated that 94,000 babies were born in Hungary, but nearly 132,000 people died. For a country with fewer than 10 million people, losing 40,000 people per year is threatening. That more young people are leaving the country in search of better wages has only made the fertility crisis worsen.
State Secretary for Families Katalin Novak told the BBC that “increasing the number of births is very difficult, because we have fewer and fewer women of child-bearing age.”
The number of women of the right age to bear children is expected to drop by 20 percent in Hungary over the next decade. This means the nation will rely on fewer women to have more babies. Their goal is for the fertility rate to return to a healthy 2.1 children per woman before this drop occurs.
Prime Minister Orban emphasized that Hungary is not interested in bolstering its workforce through immigration. Hungary has some of the most stringent immigration policies.
“Instead of just numbers, we want Hungarian children,” he said, according to the Washington Post. “Migration, for us, is surrender.”
The fertility rate is universally in danger across Europe, as currently every country in the EU is below the replacement rate. Countries like France and Germany have seen their rates rise with the implement of similar incentives for having children. These benefits range from tax breaks and write-offs to monthly stipends, which increase per child and as the children age. France in particular also offers free family passes for museums and swimming pools, hoping that the availability of family activities may encourage familial growth.
Unfortunately, while the fertility rates are on the rise in France and Germany, they have yet to reach the sustainable rate of 2.1 children per woman.