Hungary offers free IVF as population slumps 

Hungary offers free IVF as population slumps 

Hungary’s populist government says it will offer free in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment from February 1 in another attempt to try to boost the declining population.

Katalin Novak, the Hungarian state secretary for family affairs, said in December that there were 150,000 couples who wanted to have children but could not due to health issues.

The Hungarian government purchased six private fertility clinics in December with Prime Minister Viktor Orban saying the fertility sector was “of national strategic importance”. 

It is not clear who exactly will be entitled to free IVF. 

Orban is heavily opposed to immigration and says increasing fertility will counter the population downturn and risk of labour shortages in the nation of fewer than 10 million. With an estimated birth rate of 1.48 per woman, the population has been falling steadily for 40 years. 

A wave of emigration removed approximately 1 million citizens between 2008 and 2018, according to the OSCE. Hungarians have also been having fewer children, with the population forecast to drop from 9.8 million to 8.3 million by 2050.

“If we want Hungarian children instead of immigrants and if the Hungarian economy can generate the necessary funding, then the only solution is to spend as much of the funds as possible on supporting families and raising children,” Orban said. 

Last year, the populist strongman said women who had four or more children would enjoy a lifelong income tax waiver and couples with three or more children eligible for special loans. 

Orban, who became prime minister in 2010 and has unravelled Hungary’s democratic institutions and undermined the independent media, has based his campaigns on opposition to migration.

In September 2019, Orban told an international demographics conference that he disagreed with other European leaders who believed migration was the solution to falling population numbers. 

Orban has repeated the right-wing “great replacement” theory, which says white Europeans are being replaced by Asian and African migrants. 

“If Europe is not going to be populated by Europeans in the future, and we take this as given, then we are speaking about an exchange of populations, to replace the population of Europeans with others,” Orban told the summit.

“There are political forces in Europe who want a replacement of population for ideological or other reasons.”

The policies are not unique to Hungary. 

Poland pays parents 500 zloty (US$130) a month per child under its 500+ policy.

And Croatia said last year that population growth in the EU would be “a key question” while it holds the rotating presidency until June. 

 

Rural Hungary is suffering from depopulation. Picture credit: PXHere 

 

 

 

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