In his 2017 book The Strange Death of Europe, Douglas Murray remarked on an odd phenomenon. Despite steep demographic decline, he observed, most British women—and many Europeans—indicated a desire for more children than they were having. In fact, in some nations, population declines could be reversed simply by women having the children they claimed to want. So why is demographic decline going on largely unchecked? Murray and many others have wrestled with this question.
The Hungarian government of Viktor Orbán, who has served as prime minister since 2010, is betting that state intervention can tip the scales and reverse the trends. Like nearly every other nation in Europe, Hungary has been facing a steep demographic decline since 1981. Katalin Novák, the 43-year-old minister for families and vice president of the governing Fidesz party, says that the government first began to experiment with national family policy when they determined, early in their mandate, that popular support for such policies existed.