Problems of a Declining Hungarian Birth Rate: A Historical Perspective


  • Ildikó Szántó Independent Scholar



demographic transition in Hungary, low fertility rates, replacement level, ageing of population.


In contrast to its immediate neighbors, for over a century Hungary has had a seriously declining birth rate. This paper aims to provide an overview of this anomaly through a historical perspective by considering the major findings of a series of demographic studies that identify the key factors behind falling levels of fertility. It does so by focusing on four major periods. The first period covers the era prior to the demographic transition that commenced before 1880, when the demography was characterized by high birth rates and high death rates. The second period is one of demographic transition, between 1880 and 1960 coinciding with modernization, and is the period when death rates fell, while at the same time being accompanied by a decrease in birth rates. The third period is the post-transitional era of 1960-1980. The fourth covers the post-socialist change of 1990-2010. Hungary was the first country in Europe after the Second World War in which the level of fertility declined below a level of simple replacement of the population, which is less than 2.1 births per woman. Since 1981 the population has been declining by
about 0.15 – 0.20 percent per year, and currently fertility in Hungary is one of the lowest in Europe. The Hungarian age structure will become increasingly problematic as the fertile age group of the population continues to shrink.






General Articles