Budapest, Hungary, Dec 2, 2019 / 13:00 pm
Hungary has seen a surge in marriages in 2019 following the introduction of government incentives for couples to marry and have children, but the reforms have yet to deliver a boost to the country’s plummeting birth rates.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and his administration have offered several financial incentives for couples in the country to marry and have children, including subsidized loans to those who marry before the bride’s 41st birthday.
Incentives to have children are built into the loan. One-third of it can be forgiven if the married couple has two children, and the entire loan can be forgiven if they have three children.
Hungary claims the policy is working—its central statistics office recently reported a 20% increase in marriages in the first nine months of 2019, compared to the same nine-month period of 2018, according to Reuters.
The country’s birth rate remains well below the replacement level of 2.1 births per woman, and the rate has not yet registered an increase in 2019. The number of births in the first three quarters of 2019—January through September—fell by 1.6% from 2018, the office also reported, with an estimated total fertility rate of 1.48 births per woman.
Katalin Novak, the country’s state secretary for family and youth affairs, tweeted on Monday that “marriage is seeing a renaissance in Hungary” due to the administration’s “pro-family policies.” These policies include high rate of government expenditures per family, and housing and automobile assistance for families, she said.
Prime Minister Orban openly addressed the country’s decades-long birth decline in a recent address, and outlined the long-term goal of reversing the trend and reaching the replacement level.
In his Nov. 14 speech at the 9th meeting of the Hungarian Diaspora Council, Orban noted that “we won’t achieve it in the short term, and perhaps only in ten years at the soonest,” referring to the replacement rate.