According to a study, living conditions for the poorest families in Hungary have worsened in multiple regions of the country.
After years of improvement, the quality of life for the poorest Hungarian families and their children has started to decline once again based on a study by an NGO which aims to support children living in poverty (GYERE). As reported by nepszava.hu, between 2014 and 2017 researchers investigated children’s living conditions and the quality of the institutional support they have available.
The government passed a programme called “Better for children” programme in 2007, which aimed to improve the upbringing of children between 2007 and 2032. However, the then-new Fidesz government withdrew state support in 2010, meaning the scheme continues to operate, but relies on private funding.
Based on the latest data, living conditions were not improved by the rise in benefits and minimum wage as family-orientated funding – such as child care financial support – did not increase. Their situation was exacerbated by the government’s introduction of taxes to the lowest income bracket.
Between 2007 and 2017, the number of families and their children earning 40% of the country’s median – in essence families living in the lowest income bracket – has increased by 3%. Indeed, 18.5% of children living in Hungary are in this category, which is double the EU average.
More than half of the 10% poorest Hungarians’ income comes from governmental financial support, and their net income stayed below €100. According to 2017 figures, 125,000 children are brought up in households with unemployed parents and carers. Indeed, the study states that Hungary’s poorest 30% are raising over half of the country’s children.
The percentage of children brought up in poor living conditions rose from 19.7% to 27.3%, while the EU average was 6%.
In 2016, honorary president of GYERE Zsuzsa Ferge stated that the poorest are not only increasingly poorer than the rest of the country, but they are being marginalised from mainstream society.
Despite the stereotype that Roma families bear the most children, the study discovered this was not the case. In fact, the number of children born into Roma families declined in the last 5 years. Even though employment rates increased nationally, the poorest regions of Hungary still have very few job opportunities. Homes of the poorest are deteriorating fast and many cannot afford basic services such as running water.
In the poorest parts of the country, children are brought up in abysmal conditions. Due to the high costs of visiting the closest city, lactose intolerant children are unable to access dairy free products and grow up suffering the consequences. Malnourishment is a huge problem in general, as due to the price of meat, children lack protein in their diets. Even in sausages, potatoes are used as a substitute for meat. The Red Cross often comes to these poor communities to hand out food.