Summit Appeals For More Children As Demographic Winter Hits Industrialized World

Monday, September 18, 2023 | Tag Cloud

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By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News, reporting from Budapest, Hungary

BUDAPEST (Worthy News) – A summit in Budapest dedicated to the demographic winter hitting the industrialized world has ended with appeals by government and faith leaders for people to have more children and pro-family lives.

At the bi-annual 5th Budapest Demographic Summit, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni praised Hungary’s “pro-family policies.”

The 46-year-old Meloni, who has a partner and one child, said her government’s top priority was to bring about a major cultural shift in thinking about family to prevent the collapse of Italy’s economy and future as a nation.

Meloni recalled “the insults” she had received for saying she defined herself as Italian, a mother, and a Christian. “We are living in an era when the most important elements of our identity are under attack, and without that identity, we are just numbers, tools in the hands of others,” she noticed.

“In Europe, fewer and fewer children are born, so we need to mobilize resources to support families, as demonstrated perfectly by Hungary,” the Italian prime minister stressed.

She referred to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, a former liberal-turned-conservative Christian nationalist who has made having more children a crucial part of his policies.

The 60-year-old married father of five announced that his government plans to extend the life-long income tax break to women with at least three children, down from a minimum of four children now.


It wasn’t immediately clear how the government would finance the plan as it faces record inflation and awaits billions of euros in European Union support that Brussels withheld over rule-of-law concerns and doubts about Hungary’s current democratic credentials.

Orbán claims EU bureaucrats and liberal politicians punish his country for its focus on Christian, pro-family policies, and anti-migration views. He told the summit it was crucial that “family-friendly, conservative powers” in Europe would win the European elections next year.

Since taking power in 2010, Orbán has styled himself as an “illiberal” defender of Christianity and “pro-family” values in the central and eastern European country of 9.7 million.

“We need a change in the political course. We have to make sure that family-friendly, conservative powers take over in as many European countries as possible,” he said.

The Hungarian population is expected to fall below 9 million within two decades.

Despite a subsidized housing scheme for young married couples introduced in 2015 and the lifelong tax exemption for women who bear four or more children, Hungary’s fertility rate still falls short of reversing the trend.

However, Hungary’s government said its policies helped double marriages from 3.6 per 1,000 persons in 2011 to 7.4 in 2021, far above the EU average of 3.9 that year.


The fertility rate stood at 1.61 live births per woman in 2021, also above the EU average of 1.53 and up from a record low of 1.23 in 2011.

However, critics say this still falls short of the government’s goal of a fertility rate of 2.1 by 2030, which is needed to prevent Hungary’s decline.

Yet summit-attending government leaders, including from Bulgaria and Serbia, have shown interest in Hungary’s pro-family policies to maintain their nation’s populations.

And Hungary’s first female President, Katalin Novák, a 46-year-old mother of three, hasn’t given up hope. “If we do not have more children, we will give up on our future and the survival of Hungary,” she stressed.

The devoted Christian also noted that Pope Francis supported Hungary’s pro-family policies.

That view was also shared by Australian evangelist Nick Vujicic, who suffers from tetra-amelia syndrome, a disorder characterized by the absence of arms and legs.

The 40-year-old married father of four was invited to the gathering to encourage people to stay focused on Christ and His will for families regardless of their difficulties.


His message resonated at the gathering, where prominent demographer Stephen J. Shaw linked childlessness to a difference in lifestyle.

Shaw began his presentation by telling how he had met a 24-year-old girl who thought she had about 10 years to find a partner and get pregnant.

However, he pointed out that any woman over 30 who has not yet had a child has, at best, only a 50 percent chance of becoming a mother. “Israel is the only country where this age is extended by one year to 31.”

When seeing the rough figures, the 24-year-old realized she had five years instead of 10, he recalled. After “initial anger,” she approached Shaw, with whom they began a joint documentary project exploring the factors behind childlessness worldwide.

The demographer revealed that in Japan, the problem of reconciling family and work is the main reason for not having children, while in Italy, there is a high rate of youth unemployment.

“Today, for a country to maintain its population and even achieve growth, it would need a fertility rate of 2.1. Below a rate of 2, sustaining a society is simply in danger.”

Shaw said the number of women having 3 or 4 children has dramatically fallen. “It is now more common for a woman to have 0, 1, or 2 children.”


He warned that his documentary and research showed that about 80 percent of childless people had planned a family and now regretted not having one. It was crucial, he said, to find out “why people want children but do not have them” to save societies.

Don Feder, the prominent U.S. writer and columnist, agrees. He warned in The Washington Times that in the United States, “Our major cities are virtually ungovernable. Liberal crime policies are largely to blame. But you don’t recruit police from a pool of men and women in their 40s and 50s. Each generation produces fewer youth than the last.”

He added, “Demographic winter is a simple matter of math. The average woman must have 2.1 children in her lifetime just to maintain population stability. Between 1950 and 2017, worldwide, fertility fell from 4.7 births per woman to 2.4. In the U.S., over the past 70 years, our fertility rate fell by more than half.”

He wrote, “Delayed marriage, failure of family formation, and a decision not to have children have all played a part in the catastrophe in the making. Among 130 million U.S. households, only 17.8 percent are married parents with children — the fewest on record.”

The Pew Research Center said about 44 percent of non-parents say they definitely or probably won’t have children.

In 2018, there were 47.8 million Americans over 65. By 2050, that number is projected to rise to 83.7 million. McDonald’s will be recruiting workers in nursing homes,” Feder argued.

“Forget vaccine mandates. Imagine what our economy will look like with a labor pool that’s both shrinking and aging. Fields won’t be planted. Factory floors will be silent. Even if there’s a will to guard the borders and police the streets, where will we get the people?”


He said that besides economic reasons, an “exaggerated concern over climate change,” and a decision “to make the self the center of the universe.” there was another reason why children aren’t welcomed everywhere: “Above all else, it’s a loss of faith.

The decline of religion parallels declining fertility. Europe has all but abandoned Christianity. Its birth rates are among the lowest on earth.”

In America, Feder argued, the states with the highest fertility also have the highest church attendance.

Meanwhile, “Africa embraces the religion the West has largely abandoned. In consequence, it’s the only continent with a growing population.”

Back in Budapest, Hungarian Prime Minister Orbán acknowledged that encouraging young people to have more children won’t be easy. “It’s been two years since we held the last conference.

The world has changed since then, and we are in the shadow of a war,” he said, referring to the armed conflict in Ukraine, Hungary’s neighbor.

However, he said political changes in Italy and other nations gave him hope that pro-family policies would be introduced across Europe instead of relying only on migration as the panacea for the industrialized world’s Demographic winter…

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