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Hungary’s 2021 Population Decline Estimated to Be Highest since WWII

Péter Cseresnyés 2022.01.10.

Not since the end of WWII (1945) has the Hungarian population declined as much as in 2021, nor have there been so many deaths either, Telex reports. Although the official year-end figures from Hungary’s Central Statistical Office (KSH) have not yet been released, it is clear from previously published data that more than 150,000 Hungarians died, which means the Hungarian population fell by nearly 60,000 last year.

News site Telex has analyzed official national data on the number of births and deaths for 2021. Although last month’s statistics have not yet been released, it is clear from the monthly figures already available that the Hungarian population decreased by nearly 60,000 last year, they write.

This is the largest peacetime decline since reliable data recording began in 1876. Even though 93,000 children were born last year, the high death rate could not be offset by a birth surplus of one to two thousand.

Tenth of Hungarian Population Expected to Disappear by 2050
Tenth of Hungarian Population Expected to Disappear by 2050

Even with this dire forecast, Hungary is still around the average rate of population decline in the EU, according to Eurostat.Continue reading

The record-breaking population decline was first highlighted by demographer Balázs Kapitány in a Facebook post.

“Although the year-end figures are not yet known, based on the data currently available, I would estimate that in 2021, around 93,000 people have been born and 153,000 have died in Hungary. The former is a relatively good figure, the latter a staggeringly bad one. The balance of the two stats is a decline of around 60,000, which will be (somewhat) offset by an immigration surplus. In peacetime, since the introduction of official statistics, Hungary has never had a natural population balance as bad as that of 2021. I hope that 2022 will show a more positive picture in this respect,” Kapitány wrote.

Although in the first year of the coronavirus epidemic the excess death rate was relatively low in Hungary – the KSH put the figure at 8,300 for 2020, because they took the average death rate of the previous several years as a baseline; in 2021 the figure is expected to reach around 25,000, according to Telex.

Historic Analysis: The Demographic Downfall of Hungary
Historic Analysis: The Demographic Downfall of Hungary

In the last century, the Hungarian population has changed significantly.  There are numerous reasons for this, including the two world wars, Trianon, the Ratkó era, the spread of contraception, emigration, and immigration. However, since the population peak in 1980, the decline has been steady, with some predicting that if the negative trend continues at this […]Continue reading

Additionally, the fluctuation in the number of deaths follows the dynamics of the coronavirus waves: in the first wave during spring 2020 there was no spike, but in autumn there were almost 2,000 more deaths than in the previous two years. In both November and December, this number went up to around 6,000 more deaths each month.

In the 2021 third wave in March and April, there were also monthly 5-6,000 more deaths than in the previous years. During the fourth wave in October, the indicators started to deteriorate again, and in November there were again 4-5,000 more deaths than during ‘ordinary’ years.

According to the UN’s estimate, the Hungarian population is expected to fall below 9 million by 2035, and their projection shows a population of 6.4 million by the end of the century. Meanwhile, the KSH forecasts a population of 7.5 million by 2070 (excluding migration). Of course, there are many uncertainties in projections for such a long-term period, Telex notes.

Featured photo illustration via Pixabay