At the same time, he continues to engage in economic interventionism, characterised by the nationalisation of private pension funds, increased national “investment” in the energy and telecommunications sectors, and the introduction of “crisis taxes” to fight the deficit earlier in the decade.
According to the Heritage Foundation's 2017 Index of Economic Freedom, public spending takes up approximately half of Hungarian GDP, while public debt stands at 75.5 percent. Heritage also warns about the fact that labor regulations are inflexible, potentially locking willing workers out of the market.
The following graph shows the correlation between nations' economic freedom (according to the Index of Economic Freedom) and their fertility rate (according to the CIA and indexMundi). It compares data from 2016 for the Czech Republic, Hungary, Estonia, Latvia, European Union, and the United States.
As we can observe, economic freedom matters. Nations with higher economic freedom ratings than Hungary, such as the Czech Republic and Estonia, also have higher birthrates. On a grand scale, the United States stands out in comparison with the European Union as the best proof of the need to reduce economic interventionism. Although Orban may care about a flourishing civil society, preserving Western Christian values, and increasing his nation's fertility rate, a considerable portion of his economic policies to promote those goals are counterproductive.
Orban might begin by appealing to the principle of subsidiarity outside of the context of immigration. Subsidiarity teaches that that an entity of higher other must not deprive communities of a lower order of their functions, but help them to coordinate their activity with the activity of the rest of society, following the common good. He has clearly stated that Hungary will resist any migratory policy imposed by Brussels. But in Hungary, the state - a higher order institution - is taking on the responsibilities of a lower order institution - namely, the family. The next best policy, correlated to the principle subsidiarity, would be for private charitable and social organizations to provide for families who lack the means to do so themselves. State intervention should follow, not precede, them.
It is a tragedy that, thus far, public debate in Hungary lacks a more conservative-libertarian argument to counteract the distortions of Orban's family economic policies, which stand against the notion of spontaneous order. Thankfully, this is not the case in Poland. Think-tanks such as the Fundacja Republikańska, the Freedom and Entrepreneurship Foundation, the association KoLiber, and some classical liberal portions of rock singer Pawel Kukiz’s political party (Kukiz'15) provide interconnected alternatives for those Poles who - without relinquishing their moral conservatism - embrace laissez-faire economics as the most successful model for society.
Civil society, not least the Church, has a great role to play in encouraging young people to marry and grow their families. Government, whose policies stimulated the problem, will prove a poor substitute.
(Photo credit: Európa Pont. This photo has been cropped. CC BY 2.0.)