2019 was the first year since Hungary’s accession to the EU when the international migration balance was positive. Accordingly, last year the number of Hungarians who returned to their homeland was higher than the number of those who emigrated from the country.
The positive migration balance means that fewer Hungarians migrated abroad than the number of Hungarians who returned. According to the Central Statistical Office, 21,900 Hungarians emigrated last year, while 23,172 people returned home, resulting in the positive migration balance. As the Hungarian news portal Portfolio reports,
this positive tendency has not been experienced since 1990.
Compared to the previous years, the number of Hungarians who returned to their homeland decreased slightly; however, the number of those who left Hungary decreased by 2,000 last year, showing a declining willingness to emigrate. Demographically, the most painful year was 2014, when Hungary had a negative balance of 20,000 people, which has been improved by now.
The freshly published data series of the Central Statistical Office also reveal that since Hungary’s accession to the EU in 2004, nearly 240,000 Hungarians tried their fortune abroad; during this period, the number of returners was 130,000.
Concerning the list of destinations, Austria, Germany, and the United Kingdom are still the most attractive countries for Hungarians.
In 2019, there were almost 200,000 Hungarians in Germany, nearly 83,000 in Austria and 78,000 in the United Kingdom. As far as emigration statistics are concerned, in 2019 about 7,500 Hungarians emigrated to Austria, 6,100 to Germany, and 2,800 to the United Kingdom. The Brexit might explain the declining tendency of migration to Great Britain.
As far as the generation of emigrants is concerned, last year, more than 40% came from the 15-29 age group, 26% were 30-39 years old, while a further 18.4% were 40-49 years old. This trend was similar for all three main target countries.
Regarding the number of returners, Austria was also in the lead with almost 7,000 people, nearly 6,400 people from Germany and almost 4,900 Hungarians returned from the United Kingdom.
The publication also shows that Zala County, Baranya County and Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén County were at the forefront of emigration, with more than 1,500 people going to abroad in one year. Besides, emigration of more than 1,000 people from Bács-Kiskun, Hajdú-Bihar and Csongrád-Csanád counties was registered.
However, the highest number of emigration more than 4,100 – was measured from Budapest due to the size of the capital city.
Taking everything into account, the positive trend is reassuring – on the one hand, there has been a noticeable decrease in the willingness to emigrate, and on the other hand, those who have tried their luck abroad are constantly returning home. However, whether this tendency remains or not, is a question for the future.