Government officials from Hungary, Brazil, Poland and the Trump administration gathered with social conservative activists on Capitol Hill Wednesday to discuss policies that promote the growth of nuclear families and childbirth as fertility rates flounder below replacement level.
The Second International Conference on Family Policy was held in the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center and hosted by the Hungarian Embassy in partnership with the Embassy of Brazil and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The conference comes months after the first conference was hosted by the Hungarian Embassy in Washington, in which Hungarian officials from President Viktor Orbán’s national-conservative Fidesz Party discussed the progress the country has made in recent years thanks to policies that have incentivized childbirth.
While some European countries have responded to their declining populations through mass immigration, the Hungarian government has taken a more nationalist approach and would rather rebuild its population through the procreation of the Hungarian people. The government has adopted the motto of Hungary being “family-friendly.”
“We believe that strong family policy makes the country stronger and the nation stronger,” Hungarian Ambassador to the U.S. László Szabó said in his introductory remarks.
“When we are talking about nations, we are not talking about The Washington Post version of nationalism. We are talking about loving your country and making your country more successful.”
Hungary’s family policies have become somewhat of a model for other nations looking to incentivize family growth.
In Hungary, some parents are eligible to receive loans of up to $35,000 to help them pay for necessities such as a home mortgage. Those loans can be forgiven if families have three children or more.
Hungary’s list of incentives and benefits for parents include such things as a state-funded day care system, three years of paid parental leave, free kindergarten and subsidized vacations.
Beginning in January 2020, mothers with four children or more will receive an exemption from paying income taxes.
Since the Orbán government took power in 2010, Hungary has seen an increase in the marriage rate and fertility rate while it has seen a decrease in divorce and abortion rates.
“Once you don’t have this security of the being able to count on these family subsidies, then maybe you’ll give up on having children,” Katalin Novák, minister of state for family and youth affairs and vice-chair of the ruling Fidesz party, said in her keynote remarks.
“And that’s actually what happened in Hungary. And that is what is happening in Europe and the other parts of the world. More and more, young people just give up on having children.”
Novák said there is not a single European Union member state where the fertility rate reaches two children per woman. The replacement level fertility rate is considered to be 2.1.
“So there is not a single European member state where there are enough children born in order to even maintain the population. I think this is very alarming,” she said. “And that goes for the United States as well. In the United States, you have quite a nice fertility rate, I mean, compared to the average part of the world, but it doesn’t reach to [replacement level] either.”
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith