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In line with international trends, the transition process from youth to adulthood in Hungary has become longer. Young people reach the different milestones of their life later than earlier generations did. As in most of the former socialist countries, this tendency has started later in Hungary than in Europe on average, but it has been a significant phenomenon for the last two decades. (Heinz, 2008; Furlong – Cartmel, 2007 Referred in Youth Policy Review, 2016 p. 10) The most important challenges young people face in Hungary are related to this phenomenon. (National Youth Strategy, 2009)
The life chances of Hungarian youth have been gradually polarised since the turn of the century.
- Family background,
- the level of education,
- social capital and
- access to technology are the most influencing factors.
The largest gap lies between the following two groups of youngsters:
- those who can join the global educational and career network and
- those who get stuck in their local disadvantaged communities.
Young people between these two extremes can be described as members of the middle class who are exposed to several risks and challenges but who also have a number of opportunities. (Youth Policy Review, 2016 p. 11) This polarisation (polarizáció) is especially striking when looking at the life chances of rural and urban youth, particularly of young people living in Budapest. This is considered an important root cause of domestic migration. (KSH 2012/85 Referred in: Youth Policy Review, 2016 p. 13)
Snapshot of the Microcensus and the Hungarian Youth Research in 2016
Based on the study report (tanulmány) of Anikó Gregor, the data of 2016, both from the Hungarian Statistical Office’s Microcensus and the Hungarian Youth Research show, that there are changes in the transition process, and they seem to be positive from a cumulative view:
- the rate of marriages has increased,
- the total fertility rate has also increased, and
- the average age of first marriages is stagnating.
Although this is only a snapshot, and we cannot be sure that it will become a long-term tendency. Also, the polarisation mentioned above is even more visible once we analyse the groups of young people compared to each other. The actual reasons cannot be recognised yet, but the Hungarian Government prioritised the population policy starting from 2010. (For example, please see 4.6 Access to Quality Services and 1.4 Youth policy decision-making.) It is visible in
- 'the public population policy measures,
- campaigns and
- the public discourse surrounding them'.
It must be noted that young people with better economic and social status can benefit from these measures more, which can lead to even more significant differentiation between the groups of young people. [Gregor, Anikó (2016): A hazai ifjúság demográfiai jellemzői és az azt alakító tényezők p. 10]
Urban and rural
More than 2/3 (about 68% in 2016) of Hungarian youngsters (aged 15-29) live in cities and almost 1/5 (15% in 2016) live in Budapest. [Youth Research 2016 (Magyar Ifjúság Kutatás 2016)] Young people in their 20s from rural areas tend to move to urbanised settlements, and youth living in economically underdeveloped regions (in the Eastern and North-Eastern parts) of the country have a tendency to move to the central and North-Western regions where they have more opportunities. (KSH 2012/85 Referred in: Youth Policy Review, 2016 p. 13)
The biggest and the one significant minority in Hungary is the Roma population which composes approximately 6-7% of the Hungarian society. (The uncertainty of the numbers comes from the different methods applied in the population census and surveys, where self-reporting and external categorisation are both used.) The Roma population is much younger (fiatalabb) in terms of its age structure than the average population in Hungary since their fertility rate is much higher. (Bernát, 2014 Referred in: Youth Policy Review, 2016 p. 13)
Many factors influence students' results (for example the school system, the students' family, and the social background). PISA surveys show a negative tendency in the performance of Hungarian youth, the results from 2012 and 2015 create a particularly negative image regarding the inefficiency of secondary education in Hungary. (OECD, 2012, 2016) After taking a closer look at the data, the situation appears even more disappointing as the achievements of individuals are highly polarised, they reflect and even reproduce social inequalities. (Youth Policy Review, 2016 p. 16-17) According to PISA 2018 survey; Hungarian students are close to, but below the OECD average, in terms of their average socioeconomic status. (PISA 2018)
From the ’90s the expansion of the access to education brought mobility opportunities also for young people coming from low-income families. These opportunities, however, have been available for less and less young people since 2010. (Youth Policy Review, 2016 p. 16-17)
Equal access to education for Roma people has been a highly controversial issue for decades. Early school leaving, segregation, and the lack of mobility chances stemming from education are in the core of the debate. The school performance of Roma children and youth reflects the reproductive nature and growing tendency of social exclusion in education. (Kertesi – Kézdi, 2012 Referred in: Youth Policy Review, 2016 p. 18) After analysing the data of the Hungarian Youth Research 2016, it is visible, that these tendencies are still present. [Széll – Nagy (2019): Oktatási helyzetkép: iskolai életutak, tervek és lehetőségek].
The above-mentioned facts resulted that the Hungarian Government finances the Tanoda Programme from the central budget and this Programme became the part of the child protection system from 2019 according to the Act XXXI of 1997 (1997. évi XXXI. törvény a gyermekek védelméről és a gyámügyi igazgatásról).
NEET youngsters, illegal work
Among youth aged from 15 to 24, the percentage of those not in education, employment or training (NEET) decreased from 11.5% to 10.7% between 2008 and 2018. (The worst year was 2013 with 15.5%.) This figure is lower than in several other countries also heavily affected by the economic crisis, but certain groups of young people – especially those with vocational educational background – still have a high proportion of NEET rate (Ifjúságkutatás 2012). (Gazsó, 2013) (More information on the employment situation of Hungarian youth is available in Chapter 3. Employment & Entrepreneurship.)
Official data on the employment rate of young people and their financial situation can be misleading as a significant number of people in Hungary get their salaries partly or totally in the shadow economy without paying taxes and other common public charges. According to the newest Youth Research in 2016 (ifjúságkutatás 2016), less young people are working in the shadow economy than in 2012:
- 2016: 17% is not registered, 12% gets his/her payment partially illegal;
- 2012: 22% is not registered, 7% gets his/her payment partially illegal.
Mobility and migration
Since the 2010s there has been intense interest in, and much controversy about, the increasing outward migration of Hungarians to other, primarily to European countries. The most concerned age groups are young adults who are in their 20s and 30s. Presumably, the economic crisis starting in 2008 and the unfavourable labour market situation (munkaerő-piaci helyzet) have been the major causes. However, other factors might have also played a role (e.g. institutional support, welfare and social care system, the network of migration connections, the culture supporting migration, general satisfaction rate etc.). (Youth Policy Review, 2016 p. 24; Hárs, 2016)
33% of young people aged 15-29 plan to study or work abroad (31% in 2012). The main reasons are better financial opportunities and gaining experience [Youth Research 2016 (Magyar Ifjúság Kutatás 2016).
Internet and use of technology
Nowadays, the importance of the use of technology (technológiahasználat) and the Internet is continuously growing, and this is even more valid for the young generations. (KSH Referred in: Youth Policy Review, 2016 p. 24) Young people who do not have access to the Internet and technology, in general, are probably highly marginalised regarding educational, geographical and ethical aspects. Digital inequalities (digitális egyenlőtlenségek) reflect social inequalities while they also reproduce them. (Kitta, 2013; Youth Policy Review, 2016 p. 37)
LGBT youth in Hungary
In the 2000s a progressive legislature was started in Hungary regarding lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, yet the trends of political and social recognition and acceptance do not reflect a positive image. The most important policy document regarding LGBT people in Hungary is the Act CXXV of 2003 on Equal Treatment and the Promotion of Equal Opportunities that lists sexual orientation and sexual identity among protected characteristics. Although the current Fundamental Law does not refer to sexual orientation or identity itself, it forbids any forms of discrimination based on difference. Currently, there is no strategy or action plan implemented in Hungary, which aims to reduce prejudice regarding sexual orientation and sexual identity (szexuális irányultság és nemi identitás). (Dombos – Polgári, 2014; Youth Policy Review, 2016 p. 76) LGBT youth are still in a more disadvantaged situation than their heterosexual peers. (Háttér Society Referred in: Youth Policy Review, 2016 p. 76)
Regular national surveys on young people’s social inclusion
There are no regular national surveys on the social inclusion of young people. There are large sample researches like labour force survey (LFS), the Household budget and living conditions survey (HBLCS) that overview trends in certain age groups.
The Fundamental Law and the National Social Inclusion Strategy's [(Magyar Nemzeti Felzárkóztatási Stratégia 2011-2020) referred hereinafter to as NSIS] reflects that
- human dignity;
- social integration;
- the respect of fundamental rights;
- fight against prejudice as well as
- against hate speech and
- against exclusion are important issues for the Hungarian Government.
According to the Fundamental Law, social inclusion and equal opportunities are interrelated, they must be treated as linked. (NSIS, 2014 p. 3)
The NSIS has established a long-term inclusion strategy which aims to change attitude when
- fighting against poverty and
- dealing with Roma policy.
The change of attitude is reflected in articulating solutions which enable practical, effective forms of action to support the inclusion of disadvantaged groups. The Hungarian Government aims to integrate
- its strategy related to children living in low-income families with,
- its strategy on Roma issues, and
- its strategy to support disadvantaged regions;
along with fulfilling the fundamental goals of the Government which are the following:
- boosting the economy,
- increasing employment,
- redefining labour as value,
- reducing poverty,
- strengthening social security.
The NSIS does not include any specific parts related to youth itself but most of its provisions concern young people. (NSIS, 2014 p. 3-6)