During a discussion with British-born demographer and documentary maker Stephen J. Shaw, renowned Canadian clinical psychologist and bestseller author Jordan B. Peterson had listed Hungarian family supporting policies as the only known example of a government issued incentive program that has measurably slowed the population decline.
Peterson initially listed the example of Canada’s Quebec province’s attempts at introducing policies meant to reverse low birthrate, such as making daycare more accessible to young women. Yet in his view these had no positive effect whatsoever on the continuing decline of population. Indeed, Stephen Shaw maintains that there are no recent historic examples of a country entering a spiral of population decline, who could reverse this trend.
Peterson, however, points out that
Hungary has put forward a series of policy transformations on the family support front, and …. they have at least stopped the birthrate decrease and increased it slightly.
He suggested that Hungary is the only example of slightly rectifying this process of decline, however, he also says that the country has not managed to turn the tide entirely, and they are still way below population replacement levels.
To this Shaw reacts by saying that “what is fascinating in Hungary is that they are giving huge incentives to people to have three or four children, but the family structure in Hungary is not changing at all. What is changing… the childlessness rate in Hungary does seem to be going down. More people look like starting families. And what happens then, when people start their families…”, continues Shaw before being interrupted by Peterson.
Hungary had last seen positive birthrate numbers as far back as 1974-75 at around 2.3 children per capita. These numbers have declined rapidly, reaching a low at the end of the tenure of the left-wing government lead by former Prime Minister Gordon Bajnai in 2010, standing at around 1.2. Today the birth decline has seen some slowing down, birthrates currently standing at around 1.6, but significantly, the number of marriages has seen a record peak not seen in four decades, that gives hope that the number of children could also rise further.
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