Washington D.C., Dec 5, 2019 / 14:00 pm
Hungary is promoting pro-family policies because its Christian identity is at stake, the country’s family minister told CNA in an interview.
“If we give up on our Christianity, then we will lose our own identity, as Hungarians, as Europeans,” Katalin Novák, Hungary’s Minister of State for Family Affairs, told CNA in an interview on Wednesday.
Novák spoke at the second annual conference on family policy on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, co-organized with the Embassy of Brazil. She joined officials from the Trump administration, members of Congress, and representatives of non-governmental organizations in discussing how governments can promote pro-family policies.
Hungary’s birth rate is well below replacement level; the country’s central statistics office estimates the total fertility rate at 1.48 births per woman. Every country in the European Union has a sub-replacement level birth rate, Novak said. And according to United Nations data, both Eastern and Western Europe have estimated total fertility rates of 1.657 and 1.683 live births per woman for the years 2015 to 2020—well below the replacement rate of 2.1.
“We have a demographic challenge ahead of us,” Novák told CNA. While some countries may rely on immigration, Hungary is trying to reverse the trend with a two-pronged approach: financial incentives for families to have more children, and promoting a culture that is pro-life and welcoming of large families.
In 2011, Hungary’s birth rate stood at just 1.23, Novák said on Thursday, causing the government to ask such questions as “what is the reason behind” the phenomenon, and “how can we help?”
Now, the administration of Prime Minister Viktor Orban has pushed a seven-point family protection action plan with incentives for marriage and children.
Women who marry before their 40th birthday will be eligible for a subsidized interest-free loan of around €31,000 from the state; one-third of the loan can be forgiven if the couple has two children, and the entire loan can be forgiven if they have three or more children. Women with four or more children will be exempted from income tax for life. Families with at least three children are eligible for a grant to purchase a car that seats seven or more people.