Hungarian government paying citizens to start families, but only the "right" kinds of families

Published: Mar. 26, 2020 at 9:38 PM EDT
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The Hungarian government has taken over most private fertility clinics, offering free treatments, and also gives away cash, loans and subsidies to buy minivans to young couples who become new parents.

According to CBS News, the effort is to "keep Hungary Hungarian," as the slogan goes, but peel back the layers and it reveals social engineering designed to yield only a certain kind of Hungarian baby.

Katalin Novak, Hungary's Minister of State for Family and Youth Affairs is on-hand as well, spreading the government's message of clan and country.

"It is good to share their joy," Novak said. "Which is why the government protects the marriage of man and woman, and why we protect the families and children in Hungary."

She spearheads what is termed the Family Protection Action Plan. This sweeping government program was unveiled last year at a cost of $2.5 billion, that's 5% of Hungary's GDP and four times what the country spends on the military. The plan offers couples who have three kids a subsidy to get one of those minivans.

"I mean, the car sounds nice," Zoltan Benko, one of the grooms from the day's mass wedding, said. "But two, three kids. I-- I mean-- I mean, I think that's-- that's all we can handle right now. I mean, even in imaginary terms."

It's not just minivans they're offering. The mere promise to have one child gets you a $30,000 loan. Rates are slashed after two kids and forgiven after three. Commit to having four kids or more? Mom doesn't have to pay income tax for life.

Terms and conditions apply and the plan isn't open to everyone. But it does address a huge problem that the country faces: A low birth rate and the hemorrhaging of people. Hungary's population, now under 10 million, has declined for 37 straight years.

While more than 100,000 couples have already taken advantage of the incentives, it's too early to tell whether the Family Protection Plan will actually be effective, whether it will cause the desired population to bounce or deepen a rift in Hungary, much like the Danube cleaves Budapest.

Copyright 2020 CBS News. All rights reserved.

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