Italy will look to Hungary – a ‘perfect example’ of how to use investment to solve the birth rate problem – to raise its currently low birth rate, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said at the Budapest Democratic Summit on Thursday, where she met with her political ally and Hungarian counterpart Viktor Orban.
Now in its fifth year, the Budapest Demographic Summit hosts heads of state, religious leaders and academics who are particularly concerned about the growing negative birth rate on the European continent – a point of interest for Meloni as Italy registered a record negative birth rate with only 393,000 new births last year.
“The crisis of the economy conditions population growth (…) The family is part of the heart of the Italian government’s policy, whose primary objective is to initiate a substantial cultural change”, Meloni said at the summit on Thursday.
Orban was very much in tune with Meloni and congratulated her governing coalition on its achievements: “Here in Budapest, never would one have believed that Italy would have a patriotic and pro-family government (…) To our brothers in Italy, we say go ahead guys!” he said.
The Hungarian model has been hailed by both Meloni and the Pope as a “perfect example” of how to solve the birth rate problem through investment.
The Hungarian demographic policy model, implemented by the Hungarian government since 2010, aims to combat the declining birth rate through financial incentives for families, increased support for early childhood education and care, work-family balance measures, and the promotion of traditional family values.
The Hungarian demographic policy model has been credited with some success in reversing the country’s declining birth rate. The fertility rate has increased from 1.21 in 2010 to 1.56 in 2022. However, the model has also been criticised for being discriminatory against single parents and same-sex couples.
In Italy, however, the government’s ideas on how to increase the birth rate have not yet been put into practice, and the number of births continues to fall.
“There are richer nations where fewer children are being born, we need to mobilise resources to support the family as it is (…) In Hungary, the declining trend in birth rates has been halted, jobs have increased, and female employment has also increased. A great battle is needed to defend families, God, and all the things that built our civilization”, Meloni said.
But Italy’s low birth rate is something that 74% of Italians consider to be an urgent problem, according to the FragilItalia report, produced by Area Studi Legacoop and Ipsos.
Respondents were also asked what they thought were the main causes of the financial crisis, in which 70% responded saying it was mainly due to low wages and rising living costs, 63% said it was due to job instability and insecurity, and 59% said it was due to the lack of public support for the costs of bringing up children.
A further 57% thought it was mainly due to the lack of widespread family services accessible to all, while others said it was due to the fear of losing one’s job (61% of women and 56% of men).
(Federica Pascale Euractiv.it)
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