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BUDAPEST, Hungary (ChurchMilitant.com) - A Central European politician is pushing a pro-family agenda to fight the worldwide problem of population decline, a battle she argues is more serious than climate change.
Hungarian president Katalin Novák has been taking her message to the world stage in her efforts to fight population collapse. In a recent interview with TV Tokyo, she touted her government's broad family support system that eases the financial strains on couples wishing to bear children.
Novák told the Japanese network, whose own country is facing the largest drop in population since 1968, "There shouldn't be any financial obstacles in childbearing [or] child raising." She also publicized Hungary's system of tax breaks and financial incentives for families wishing to raise children.
The former secretary for family affairs and mother of three added:
There shouldn't be any financial obstacles in childbearing and in child raising, so when the young people decide on having children and in a responsible manner, then we should enable them to do so. The principle itself, it is not to have extra burdens and financial disadvantages because a couple decides on having children vis-à-vis those who decide not to have [children].
On Sept. 19, in New York, the Hungarian president expressed the urgency of such measures. Addressing world leaders at the opening of the 78th U.N. General Assembly, she raised the issue of population collapse due to low birth rates. "In Europe and in some of your countries, the demographic winter has turned into an ice age," she declared. "If you do not address this issue, it will have an immeasurable impact on our economies, societies and security in the near future."
If there is no child, there is no future. What is the point of looking after the earth if we don't have children and grandchildren to pass it on to? If childlessness becomes widespread, if fewer children are born than those who pass away in our countries, our beloved world, which we believe to be secured, will be shattered.
The Hungarian president lauded X CEO Elon Musk, the father of 11 children, for also sounding the alarm about the threat of population decline.
"Elon Musk may be right when he says that demographic decline is a more serious problem than the climate crisis," she said. "Little attention is paid to the real and irreversible change of the world."
Indeed, in August, the multibillionaire posted a picture of himself on X holding a sign that read, "The population crisis is real." Above the picture was a post that read, "Population collapse is the biggest threat to civilization."
Population collapse is the biggest threat to civilization.— DogeDesigner (@cb_doge) August 21, 2023
• Japan had it's largest total drop in population since 1968.
• U.S. population flatlining as birth rate stagnates.
• China's fertility rate hits record low.
• Singapore's birth rate falls to record low.
• UK… pic.twitter.com/OwloSfysBi
The financially friendly family policies of Hungary (roughly the same size as the state of Indiana) have borne fruit. Hungary's fertility rate stood at 1.61 live births per woman in 2021, above the EU average of 1.53, and continues struggling upwards from the country's record low of 1.23 in 2011, an era still haunted by decades of Soviet communist control.
Hungary's marriage rate has also increased, doubling from 3.6 marriages per 1,000 persons in 2011 to 7.4 in 2021, far above the EU average of 3.9 for that same year. Hungary's constitution protects the institution of marriage "as the union of a man and a woman."
Hungary's efforts to turn the tide of population decline are not without criticism. Some say the policies pressure women to have children, others assert they discriminate against low-income couples, and others decry that same-sex couples are excluded from the benefits.
Pro-life advocates also critique the precedent-setting government program. The President Hungarian Life International, Imre Téglásy, argues that government policies alone cannot overcome this culture of death. He told Church Militant that "financial means alone are not enough to improve the number of births in any country. Also needed is a broader promotion of the pro-life mentality, the whole culture of life, with churches playing a key role."
"But those who would save their nations from demographic disaster must still go a step further even than overcoming the feminist-capitalist fetish of female employment," Téglásy said. "The preeminent issue is the issue of abortion."