A new survey among couples who have been together for over 6 months found that state subsidies to married couples in exchange for more children is the leading cause for legally tying the knot.
Banks are running out of job these days. The Orbán-government is so busy developing new types of conditional loans (with millions of conditions, like having three children, etc.) that banks had to stop rolling out their own products to the public. They are now busy administering state-mandated loans and checking state-mandated conditions (like collecting ultrasound images of fetuses because that is so normal) to said loans – rather than doing their own jobs according to their own rationales. *
So what they do is running surveys instead. One of them found that couples overwhelmingly marry for state incentives. To be precise,
- 62% only marries for state subsidies
- 38% for the children
- 29% for the expectations of friends and family.
Orbán’s drive to tie couples together and make them produce at least three children and never divorce is having a yield. The biggest number of marriages since 1986 has been made in 2020, 3% up from 2019.
The reason behind the bump is the 30 million forints of loans and subsidies a couple can get to buy a home – if they sign a contract to produce three children into the same marriage in 10 years and not get divorced in 20 years. Infertility and domestic violence are no excuse, and failure to deliver results in punitive repayment terms. According to some calculations the terms of punitive repayment are already worse than not taking up Orbán’s offer, but the rates are getting worse every time interests rise.
Infertility is handled by Orbán by nationalizing every last fertility clinic in the country* and forcing the infertile couples’ female member to undergo five rounds of IVF (regardless of the cause of the infertility) before doctors are allowed to announce them hopeless. The state subsidies will then have to be repaid – but at least not with punitive rates.
Domestic violence (and bad marriages) is handled by aggressively denying its existence. Part of the problem is terminology. The literal translation of domestic violence in Hungarian reads “violence within the family”, which is something Orbán refuses to hear of. According to the very vocal little opinions of members of his government, such a thing simply does not exist, and men are suffering from it anyway. And “violence” must not be associated with the word “family” at any rate. Because that will surely solve the problem if we don’t talk about it. (And in a way it does because roughly one woman per week is killed by their owners.)
How these loans play out in the long run is not a mystery as loans-for-children is an old communist policy (called szocpol) that was discontinued in 2009 – but Orbán reheated it in 2015 (called CSOK).
According to the information request by economic daily napi.hu between 2001 and the program’s discontinuation in 2009, Szocpol, the previous such fertility policy had around 41305 contracts signed, pledging at least one baby in exchange for loans. (And that is just its last 8 years, the program ran for decades.) Out of those contracts 9571 were not fulfilled – i.e. the applicants have failed to deliver at least 9571 new taxpayers (possibly more, this is just the number of contracts), and are now in various stages of foreclosure and repayment of the loan at worse than market conditions.
According to the government, 100 thousand CSOK contracts pledging over 45 thousand new babies had been applied for by July 2019, that is how many have jumped on the reintroduced program. With the same rate of failure of delivery, 25 thousand of those families will get into trouble.
And that trouble will just deepen their dependence on state benevolence. Pulling on the strings of Szocpol repayment has always been used against parents for non-compliance (such as school attendance or other infractions), there is no reason why CSOK strings wouldn’t be used to enforce political will in the same way.*
The real question everyone should be asking these opinionated politicians is how dare they are to bark into other people’s lives? How dare they are creating incentives to create and endure misery? Who do they think they are to conduct biopolitics and regard their voters as livestock to breed? Because the right’s accepted form of central planning is biopolitics, disgusting as it is.
*And I still keep hearing about pro-market and pro-freedom Orbán abroad from people who ought to know better.