Hungarian Population Discourses in the Twentieth Century: The Problem of Declining Birth Rates


  • Ildikó Szántó Independent Scholar



Falling birth rates had already been recorded as early as the late-eighteenth century in south-western Hungary in the Ormánság. Population loss from low birth rate remained one of the main topics writers and sociologists focused on in the twentieth century. The issue of Hungarian population decline was highlighted among the social ills in the interwar period, which was one of several subjects that divided intellectuals into ‘populists’ and ‘urbanites’. Following the impact of the low birth rate figures in the 1960s, the populists’ views of the 1930s resurfaced in public discourse in the 1960s and 1970s and up to the present day. The concern about the increasing trend of single-child families in rural settlements as well as in urban areas appeared in the various works of Hungarian writers and journalists throughout the previous century. The present paper intends to focus on the intellectual background to the public debates on the population issue, outlining the accounts of the interwar ‘village explorers’ briefly, and the way they are related to the pre-Second World War populist movement. Finally the reappearance of the debates between populists and non-populists of the 1970s is discussed, a debate that is still continuing.






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