Fertility rates and population growth

A BBC report earlier this month examined Hungary’s attempt to spur a “baby boom with tax breaks and loan forgiveness,” because Hungary’s fertility rate is poor:

Hungarian women with four children or more will be exempted for life from paying income tax, the prime minister has said, unveiling plans designed to boost the number of babies being born.

It was a way of defending Hungary’s future without depending on immigration, Viktor Orban said.

The right-wing nationalist particularly opposes immigration by Muslims.

Hungary’s population is falling by 32,000 a year. Women there have fewer children than the EU average.

As part of the measures, young couples will be offered interest-free loans of 10m forint (£27,400; $36,000), to be cancelled once they have three children.

Mr Orban said that “for the West”, the answer to falling birth rates in Europe was immigration: “For every missing child, there should be one coming in and then the numbers will be fine.

“Hungarian people think differently,” he said. “We do not need numbers. We need Hungarian children.” …

Other points in the government’s plan include: A pledge to create 21,000 nursery places over the next three years; An extra $2.5bn to be spent on the country’s healthcare system; Housing subsidies; State support for those buying seven-seat vehicles.

A few of these policies are things that both Democrats and Republicans have spoken for in America. A few of these things should probably be embraced by both parties here, too. Hungary’s fertility rate is below the replacement rate necessary for a stable population:

The average number of children a Hungarian woman will have in her lifetime (fertility rate) is 1.45. This puts the country below the EU average of 1.58. … Niger, in West Africa, has the highest fertility rate in the world, with 7.24 children per woman.

There are some who suggest that replacement level population doesn’t matter, and that new immigrants are functionally the only reasonable way to stabilize or grow a diminishing nation. I think there are other acceptable answers to that problem. Hungry m might provide some answer.

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