Hungary, fertility, fertility rates
Bela Szandelszky/AP

Hungarian Leaders Concerned About Low Fertility Rate

September 11, 2008 05:55 AM
by Emily Coakley
Hungary’s population could drop 13 percent in the coming decades, but a trend of declining European birth rates may be reversing in some countries.

Combination of Factors Contribute to Low Rate

Fewer and fewer people are getting married in Hungary, and that trend is leading to a decline in the nation’s fertility rate, Bloomberg reports.

A European agency projects that Hungary, which has one of the lowest fertility rates in the region, could drop from 10 million people now, to 8.7 million in 2060. According to Bloomberg, other Eastern European countries are also projecting population decreases in the coming decade.

In Hungary, some of the reasons for the drop include people waiting longer to get married, and emigration. Some of the country’s leaders wonder who will care for the older Hungarians that remain in the country if the trend continues, Bloomberg says.

“It is a sad situation to see small villages that don’t have enough children to keep the kindergartens open,” Csongor Szerdahelyi, a Catholic Bishops’ Conference press officer, told Bloomberg. “But I don’t think people have babies because it is their patriotic duty.”

Fertility rates have been declining across Eastern and Western Europe for years. But a recent report suggests that is starting to change in some countries. Last month, the Guardian reported that Great Britain, which has the highest birth rate “in a generation,” could see its population rise by a quarter by 2060. 

Cyprus, Ireland and Luxembourg could also have large population growth, the Guardian said.

Opinion & Analysis: Trend not necessarily inevitable

Vitaliy Voznyak, who describes himself as a political science graduate student at the University of Illinois at Chicago, said projections are not certainty.

“The farther in the future we venture the wider is our estimation error, so for all we know Hungary’s population rate (or of its other neighbors) may reverse and stabilize,” said Voznyak, who wrote on the blog 8th Circle. “However projections such as these have a purpose, specifically, they point out toward potential future demographic crises that no country can afford to ignore if it is to prosper in the long-run.”

Related Topics: Fertility rate fluctuations

The United States, for the most part, is seeing a decline in its fertility rate, too. Utah remained high above the national average—a birthrate of 83.2 per 1000 women—versus the national average of 54.9.

Another area of America where the growth rate has increased is among the Amish. The number of Amish people in America has doubled in the past 16 years, and people in the community are moving into new states. Though some people have converted to the Amish faith, a high fertility rate is also credited with the population increase.

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