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Positive social trends have emerged since the last census

One of the highlights of 2023 was the arrival of the 2022 census data. This gave us an insight not only into the developments of the past year, but also a longer-term view of the domestic trends over a decade. In most areas, the 2022 census shows a big improvement compared to 10 years ago. For example, the educational attainment of Hungarians is significantly higher, and their language and digital skills have improved. In addition, employment has expanded dynamically, with an increasing share of people in intellectual professions. These data show an increase in the complexity of the economy and a growing share of higher value-added sectors. Housing conditions have also improved, with an increase in the number of dwellings in 18 out of 19 counties, which shows that the housing programmes have been successful. Given the more moderate change in the municipalities, the continuation of the rural Family Housing Support Program (csok) remains justified and is in line with the government’s decision for 2024.

Author: Németh Viktória

The following analysis looks at social and economic trends based on the census results, and analyses changes in, among other things, language skills, digital skills and educational attainment in connection with changes in the population’s knowledge. The growing knowledge base provides a direct basis for employment transformation. The analysis also focuses on the rise in the number of people in employment, as well as the shift in the weight of the main employment groups and economic sectors. Employment growth and the increasing weight of the higher value-added sectors contribute to a more favourable income situation. As a result, fertility indicators have improved and the number of marriages has increased, which are also discussed in the following analysis. Furthermore, as a result of the favourable economic trends, an increase in housing conditions and the number of dwellings has been observed, which will also be covered in this analysis.

Expanding knowledge

Language skills

Compared to 2011, the Hungarian population has significantly higher levels of education, language skills and digital literacy. English is the most common foreign language in our country, spoken by one in four people. Their number has increased significantly, by 50% since 2011. German is spoken by 1.2 million people, almost 100,000 more than in 2011. The next most widely spoken languages are Russian, spoken by 204,000 people, French by 147,000 and Romanian by 138,000.

Figure 1: English is the most widely spoken foreign language among Hungarians, with the proportion of speakers increasing by more than 50% in a decade. Source: KSH. The figure can be referenced here: https://public.flourish.studio/visualisation/16701304/

In an EU comparison, according to Eurostat (2023), of the countries for which data are available, Hungary has had the highest increase in the proportion of foreign language speakers after Belgium, by around a third. However, if we look at the data over just 6 years, from 2016 to 2022, the proportion of foreign language speakers in Belgium decreased, while Hungary saw the third largest increase in the proportion of foreign language speakers between 2016 and 2022 too, by almost 15%. It is also worth noting that between 2016 and 2022, the proportion of people speaking at least one foreign language decreased in 8 countries.

Figure 2: The proportion of people speaking at least one language has increased the most in Hungary after Belgium over the last decade. Source: Eurostat. The figure can be referenced here: https://public.flourish.studio/visualisation/16701200/

Digital skills

In terms of digital literacy, the vast majority of the population aged 6 and over, 83%, regularly engages in some kind of digital activity. In addition to browsing the internet and using telecommunications, 53% also engage in higher level digital activities such as doing administrative tasks online, shopping or using software.

Figure 3: The majority of Hungarians have at least intermediate IT skills. Source: KSH. The figure can be referenced here: https://public.flourish.studio/visualisation/16701498/

Educational attainment

The educational attainment of the Hungarian population has improved over the past decade, between the 2011 and 2022 censuses. The largest increase was in the share of people with university and college degrees, which rose by almost a third. While in 2011 their share of the population aged 15 and over was 17%, in 2022 it increased to 22.3%. The share of people with a secondary school leaving certificate improved from 30.1% to 33.1%. Meanwhile, the share of those with a vocational diploma without a secondary school leaving certificate has remained essentially stagnant.

Figure 4: Among the population aged 15 years and over, the share of people with a university or college degree improved the most between 2011 and 2022. Source: KSH. The figure can be referenced here: https://public.flourish.studio/visualisation/16701620/

Labour market trends

As the knowledge of the population has increased, the labour market situation of employees has also improved. Employment increased significantly, by nearly 800,000 people between 2011 and 2022, with the share of intellectual occupations rising, independently of the fact that Hungary has been able to attract significant industrial capacity over the past decade. These data point to an increase in the complexity of the economy and a growing share of higher value-added sectors.

Figure 5: Employment in the population aged 15+ increased by nearly 800,000 people between 2011 and 2022. Source: KSH. The figure can be referenced here: https://public.flourish.studio/visualisation/16701808/

The share of occupations requiring the independent use of tertiary education grew the most, by 18.1%. The share of economic, administrative and lobbyist managers and legislators also increased by more than 10%. The share of other employees requiring tertiary or secondary education also increased, while the share of clerical and administrative workers remained broadly stable. The share of armed forces employees, a smaller segment of the labour market, also showed a double-digit increase. Meanwhile, despite the growing economic weight of these sectors, the proportion of people employed in industry, trade, services and agriculture fell.

Figure 6: Between 2011 and 2022, the share of occupations requiring the autonomous use of tertiary education increased the most. Source: KSH. The figure can be referenced here: https://public.flourish.studio/visualisation/16701886/

The number of employees increased in almost all sectors of the economy, thanks to employment growth, which rose from 3.9 million people in 2011 to 4.7 million. Manufacturing (18.8%) and trade and motor vehicle repair (13.1%) were the main drivers.

Figure 7: Between 2011 and 2022, employment grew faster in higher value-added sectors. Source: KSH. The figure can be referenced here: https://public.flourish.studio/visualisation/16055993/

The negative population trends of the 2000s have reversed

According to the KSH survey, 2011 was the low point for birth statistics, but recent years have been characterised by an increase in the propensity to have children. The total fertility rate has risen from a historic low of 1.23 in 2011 to almost a level of 1.6. The trend in Hungary is also positive by European standards. The number of marriages among people under 30 is also on the rise.

Figure 8: In 2011, earlier trends were reversed, with fertility rates jumping from 1.2 to close to 1.6 by 2022. Source: KSH. The figure can be referenced here: https://public.flourish.studio/visualisation/16702203/

According to Eurostat data (2023), Hungary is moving in the opposite direction to the downward trend in the EU. In Hungary, the fertility rate has been improving since 2011. Meanwhile, the EU average has deteriorated over this period. In 2021, Hungary’s fertility rate was 1.61, higher than the EU average of 1.53. The favourable Hungarian figure is particularly forward-looking when compared to the early 2010s. In 2011, the Hungarian rate was 1.23, while the EU average was 1.57, higher than currently (Eurostat, 2023).

Figure 9: By 2018, the fertility rate was above the EU average. Source: Eurostat. The figure can be referenced here: https://public.flourish.studio/visualisation/16702070/

Another positive factor regarding the Hungarian fertility rate is that the improving indicator is not due to the foreign population. According to Eurostat data (2023), Hungary is one of the EU member states with the lowest proportion of children born to foreign mothers.

The proportion of children born to foreign and local mothers varies significantly across Europe. Children of foreign-born mothers range from 1 per cent of all children in Serbia to 65 per cent in Luxembourg and 73 per cent in Liechtenstein. This figure is at least 20% in half of the 34 countries surveyed by Eurostat. In 2021, the indicator stood at 29 per cent in Germany, the United Kingdom and Sweden, while the figure was 23 per cent in France. In addition to Serbia, Poland, Turkey, Lithuania, Slovakia and Bulgaria had a share of 3 per cent or less of children born to foreign-born mothers. In Hungary, the same figure was 4 percent.

Between 2013 and 2021, Europe saw an increasing number of children born to foreign mothers. The largest increase was in Malta, with 22 percentage points, followed by Greece (6 percentage points) and Spain, Portugal and Romania (5 percentage points each) (Eurostat, 2023).

Figure 10: Native mothers have played an important role in the improvement of fertility rates in Hungary, in contrast to the trends in the European Union, where the share of foreign mothers is high. Source: Eurostat. The figure can be referenced here: https://public.flourish.studio/visualisation/16702315/

Marriages

Overall, the proportion of married people has decreased, while the number of unmarried people has increased. The trend is not only a reflection of the change in marriage rates in absolute terms, but also of more complex social processes involving an ageing European society and changing lifestyles, such as the gradual increase in the age at which people marry. To get a more complete picture, it is also worth comparing national trends with EU statistics.

Evolution of population distribution by marital status (%) based on the 2011 and 2022 censuses

Figure 11: In line with European trends, the proportion of married people has fallen since 2011. Source: Eurostat. The figure can be referenced here: https://public.flourish.studio/visualisation/16702741/

Number of marriages per 1,000 inhabitants – contrary to EU trends, the number of people in committed relationships in Hungary has been steadily increasing. While in the EU the rate was essentially stagnant and even fell in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, in Hungary the trend was still upwards in the year of the pandemic. In 2011, Hungary’s marriage rate was below the EU average, but by 2015 it had surpassed it. After 2018, there was another jump in the number of marriages. The family policy support system plays an important role in this. Targeted government policies have made marriage popular once again, in contrast to the trend in Western Europe, where increasing loneliness is the norm. Support for younger people could be important in the period ahead, as more children can be born if people marry at a younger age. The reform of the conditions of the baby loan works in this direction.

Figure 12: The marriage rate has been above the EU average since 2015, with a further jump in 2018. Source: Eurostat. The figure can be referenced here: https://public.flourish.studio/visualisation/16705104/

However, the continued ageing of the population is a negative trend. This process is in line with European trends. According to Eurostat, 21% of the population was elderly on 1 October 2022, while children accounted for 15%. Between 2011 and 2022, the population aged 65 and over and its share of the total population increased by 318,000, or 19%. At the same time, the group of children aged 0-14 decreased slightly and the working age population aged 15-64 decreased significantly.

Figure 13: Hungary is not immune to the ageing of European society. Source: KSH. The figure can be referenced here: https://public.flourish.studio/visualisation/16705195/

Although the proportion of the population aged 65 and over has also increased in Hungary, it did not reach the EU average even in 2022. The ambition and objectives of family-friendly government policies include conquering this trend. European societies are threatened by the collapse of the social security system, as the number of dependants gradually increases while the proportion of the working-age population decreases. Many European governments are seeking to address this trend by supporting migration. At the same time, the integration of third-country migrants into the labour market is facing obstacles and putting further strain on the care system. The Hungarian government, on the other hand, is focusing on the self-renewal capacity of society through the prioritisation of family policy.

Figure 14: The share of the population aged 65 and over in Hungary was below the EU average even in 2022. Source: Eurostat. The figure can be referenced here: https://public.flourish.studio/visualisation/16705252/

Housing conditions have improved

Hungary’s housing stock has been able to grow over the past decade. In 2022, there were 4.6 million dwellings in the country, an increase of 4.6% in 11 years. 171,000 dwellings were built between 2011 and 2022. During this period, 2013 was the low point, before the pace of housing construction accelerated in the second half of the decade. The number of dwellings increased in 18 out of 19 counties, with the highest increases in Győr-Moson-Sopron, Pest and Somogy. In the Transdanubian counties, the increase in the number of dwellings was typically higher than in the eastern part of the country. The number of dwellings has increased most in rural towns over the last 11 years, while in municipalities it has hardly changed. This also shows that housing programmes in urban areas have achieved their objectives. The first period of the scheme has thus been successfully completed. However, the continuation of the rural Family Housing Support Program (csok) is still justified and in line with the government’s decision for 2024 that the home creation scheme will be maintained in small settlements and will receive an increased budget together with the baby loan.

Figure 15: Over the past decade, the number of dwellings has increased most in the capital and in towns with county rights. Source: KSH. The figure can be referenced here: https://public.flourish.studio/visualisation/16705312/

Conclusion

Over the last decade, the population’s skills that improve its labour market position, including language and digital skills, has increased, as has the share of people with higher education. These positive developments may have contributed to higher employment levels and a higher share of higher value-added jobs. Over the past decade, the government has not only been aiming to develop a work-based society, but also to promote the emergence of more complex, higher value-added sectors of the economy. Census data show that socio-economic developments have been in line with these objectives.

The favourable labour market turnaround of the last decade has contributed to an improvement in the income situation of the population. This is also a key issue from the perspective of having children. According to research by Mária Kopp and Árpád Skrabski (2003, 2006), many more children were planned in Hungary in the 2000s than were eventually born. According to Mária Kopp’s research, “the desired, planned children were more likely to be born in countries that place great emphasis and spend a lot of money on reconciling family and work commitments of parents (not only mothers) with young children” (2010: p. 249). Building on the ideas of Mária Kopp, the entire Hungarian family support system was reformed in the 2010s and has become one of the most comprehensive in the European Union. Since 2010, the Hungarian government has spectacularly increased the resources available for family support, both in relative and absolute terms. In 2017, the 27 EU member states spent a total of €301 billion on family support, which is roughly 2.3 per cent of the EU’s GDP. This represents roughly 8.6 per cent of the total amount spent on social expenditure. Parts of this extensive system are baby loans and the Family Housing Support Program (csok), which have contributed to the expansion and renewal of the housing stock in Hungary.

In 2023, the government reviewed some elements of the family support system, and decided to increase the amount of the baby loan and the rural csok. Although the number of beneficiaries will be reduced, the amount of csok will increase by 50 per cent in 2024. The directions of the family policy reform are supported by the 2022 census data.

The figures show a turnaround in the birth rate, but further expansion is needed to reach a rate of 2.1, which would be enough to maintain the population at replacement level. As such, the expansion of the baby loan was justified. In addition, it is an important factor that, among the different types of settlements, it is precisely the housing stock in villages that has expanded the least over the last decade, while the housing stock in larger settlements such as the capital or towns with county rights is expanding dynamically. Thus, overall, there is still a need to support the renewal of villages, and this is the purpose of the increase of the amount of the rural csok.

Reference list

  • Eurostat: Fertility indicators. (2023) https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/databrowser/bookmark/5b5d48f3-e548-4a56-82de-686dab7be4ba?lang=en
  • Eurostat: Fertility statistics. (2023) https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php?title=Fertility_statistics#Highest_share_of_children_from_foreign-born_mothers_in_Luxembourg
  • Eurostat: Number of foreign languages known (self-reported) by sex. (2023) https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/databrowser/view/edat_aes_l21/default/table?lang=en
  • Eurostat: Population structure and ageing. (2023) https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php?title=Population_structure_and_ageing#The_share_of_elderly_people_continues_to_increase
  • Kopp Mária & Skrabski Árpád: A gyermekvállalás pszichológiai és szociális háttértényezői a magyar népesség körében. In: Demográfia, 46 (4): 383—395. (2003)
  • Kopp Mária & Skrabski Árpád: A támogató család, mint a pozitív életminőség alapja. In: Kopp Mária, Kovács Mária Erika (szerk.). A Magyar népesség életminősége az ezredfordulón. Semmelweis Kiadó, Budapest, 220—232. (2006)
  • Kopp Mária: A gender-kutatások népegészségügyi és demográfiai jelentősége. Mentálhigiéné és Pszichoszomatika, 11 (4). pp. 243-254. ISSN 1419-8126 (2010)
  • KSH: Napszámolás 2022. Előzetes adatok. A népesség és a lakások száma. (2023) https://nepszamlalas2022.ksh.hu/eredmenyek/elozetes_adatok/#/cimlap
  • KSH: Napszámolás 2022. Végleges adatok A népesség főbb jellemzői (országos és területi adatok). (2023) https://nepszamlalas2022.ksh.hu/eredmenyek/vegleges-adatok/kiadvany/assets/nepszamlalas2022-vegleges-adatok.pdf
Senior kutató | Published writings

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