On May 27-29, the Hungarian-based Family Science Alliance, the European Family Science Society, and the Batthyány Society of Professors are hosting a hybrid digital/in-person international conference in Budapest on “Demography and the Culture of Relationships between Couples.” The motto of the conference is “The demographic crisis can only be solved by overcoming the crisis in family life.”
This conference is especially timely as a recent study published in the British journal Lancet in 2020 projects a disastrous demographic winter facing much of the world. According to the report “Fertility, mortality, migration, and population scenarios for 195 countries and territories from 2017 to 2100” by researchers at the University of Washington, Europe’s population is about to fall off a cliff. The expected population losses in Europe between now and 2100, especially in Central and Eastern Europe, will approach numbers not seen since the Bubonic Plague in the 1300’s. Indeed, during such time it is projected that Europe as a whole will lose 26% of its population (where 200 million people will disappear). But not just Europe will be affected. Asia will also be especially hard it, as it is projected to lose 22% of its population (1 billion people) by 2100, as will the Caribbean, which is expected to lose 31% of its population (14 million people) by then. Many countries around the world are expected to lose 40% or more of their population, including the United Arab Emirates (-65%), Bulgaria (-63%), Ukraine (-61%), Poland (-60%), Cuba (-60%), Japan (-53%), Spain (-51%), Italy (-50%), and China (-49%). Unless decisive action is taken soon, much of the world will be facing a demographic winter of unprecedented magnitude.
The conference will be tackling the demographic crisis by tackling one of the root causes of the crisis—the disintegration of marriage and the family. As the paper announcing the conference states: “It is worrying that countries affected by the demographic crises are not trying to curb free sexuality. Without finding ways to leave this behind and restore mutual loyalty and fidelity there is no solution to the demographic crisis. Couples firm in their commitment, in marriage, have the home that welcomes children.” Indeed, marriage and the family have been under unrelenting attack for the past 60 years. As the authors write: “For decades the traditional family model has been under intense attack in the consumer society. We can say that there is a cultural war against the institutions of marriage and the family.” The paper then proposes a three-pronged strategy to restore marriage and the family and hopefully prevent the impending demographic catastrophe: 1) finding ways to overcome “the obstacles to the development and continuance of good marriages and families”; 2) building society “through a partnership with the social sciences to strengthen culture”; and 3) providing “financial support and material benefits to young spouses and parents.”
Both international and Hungarian experts will be speaking at the conference. The International Organization of the Family’s own Brian Brown will be delivering a talk on “The Power of Family Policy: Hungarian Lessons for the West.” Over the past decade Hungary has instituted innovative pro-family and marriage policies that have been achieving phenomenal results. Indeed, as a result of these policies Hungary has seen its marriage rate increase by 86%, its divorce rate decrease by 25%, its abortion rate decrease by 41%, and its fertility rate increase by 28%. Other speakers from the United States include Dr. Patrick Fagan of the Marriage and Religion Research Institute, Wendy Wixom of United Families International, and Sharon Slater of Family Watch International. Speakers from Hungary include Hungarian Family Minister Katalin Novak, Deputy Secretary of State for Family Policy Attila Beneda, and former Minster for Human Resources Zoltan Balog. You can register for the conference at: https://csaladtudomany.hu/.
With a demographic winter on the horizon for many parts of the world, decisive action needs to be taken before it is too late. The upcoming international conference on “Demography and the Culture of Relationship between Couples” is one important effort to confront this problem and provide some possible solutions. But whatever is ultimately tried to avert the crisis, restoring the family and marriage in our societies will play a key role.