HUNGARY, February 12, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – In the latest policy proposal aimed at reversing a declining birth rate, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban announced a plan to waive income taxes entirely for women with four or more children, among other advantages.
The announcement came as part of a seven-point “Family Protection Action Plan” that Orban detailed during his yearly State of the Nation address Sunday, CNBC reported.
“There are fewer and fewer children born in Europe. For the West, the answer is immigration. For every missing child there should be one coming in and then the numbers will be fine,” he declared. “But we do not need numbers. We need Hungarian children (…) this is Hungary's answer rather than immigration.”
In addition to the tax waivers, Orban’s plan would include subsidies for large families to buy bigger cars, extending an existing loan program to help families with two or more children buy homes, preferential loans for women under 40 upon getting married, more funding for the country’s healthcare system, and childcare fees for grandparents who look after young children.
The proposal appears to be in line with a critique some on the Right have leveled against conservative conventional wisdom in the United States, such as Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s contention that the Republican Party must better support families as the “building block of everything.” While generally supportive of both low taxes and pro-family policy, others such as commentator Dennis Prager have expressed concern about the notion of some Americans paying nothing while still being able to “vote on how much others will be forced to pay.”
In the context of Hungary’s current challenges, however, the more pressing issue is that deaths continue to outpace births to an even greater extent than the already-problematic average of the European Union.
“In 2017, 94,600 live births were registered in Hungary and 131,900 deaths were registered, equating to a population decline of just over 37,000 people,” CNBC reported, citing data from Eurostat. Hungary’s crude birth rate for that year was 9.7 per 1,000 residents, slightly below the EU’s rate of 9.9 per 1,000 residents.
The Family Protection Action Plan isn’t the first wave of policies that Hungary has proposed to incentivize having more babies. In 2015, it first instituted substantial grants, value-added tax deductions, and capped-interest loans to help married couples with three or more children buy new homes. At the time, Lyman Stone of the Institute for Family Studies wrote that the policy wasn’t enough to raise birth rates to replacement level, but could be credited with “some fertility gains.”
“(T)o the extent these policies are working, they are effective because they are not being used in isolation, but rather together as a whole concert of pro-natal policies and cultural nudges,” Stone stressed. “And they are working because they induce marriage, not simply childbearing, and marriage helps boost long-run fertility, not just birth-timing.”
Last summer, LifeSiteNews reported that Hungary’s family-support policies were being credited with a decline in the country’s abortion rate of more than a third.