Parenting and Democracy in Contemporary Europe
Edited by David G. Mayes and Mark Thomson
Chapter 9: Out of the frying pan, into the fire: Hungarian parental leave policies from a gender equality perspective
Approaches to childbearing in Hungary are characterised by a number of contradictions. Hungarians consider themselves as people fond of children, yet the actual willingness to have children is very low. Hungarian fertility rates are among the lowest in Europe, while spending on in-cash family benefits is extremely high. Yet, fertility is a political priority. Resolving the demographic crisis is the main rationale in the design of childcare policies. Research has demonstrated that other aspects of family policies – combating poverty and social exclusion, providing equality of opportunities, increasing the female employment rate, acknowledging the plurality of family forms and lifestyles, and improving the work-life balance – are overshadowed by concerns of fertility and procreation (Neményi and Takács, 2006). Rising neo-liberalism in the economy and conservatism in family matters after the regime change have influenced attitudes and practices related to the family, childbearing and childcare.
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