Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Demographics of Hungary

For 95% of the population, mostly Hungarians, the mother tongue is Hungarian, a Finno-Ugric language unrelated to any neighbouring language and distantly related to Finnish and Estonian. Several ethnic minorities exist: Roma (2.1%), Germans (1.2%), Slovaks (0.4%), Croats (0.2%), Romanians (0.1%),Serbs (0.1%) and Ukrainians (0.1%).

According to census data, the largest religion in Hungary is Roman Catholicism (53% of the population), with a significant Calvinist minority (14% of the population) and smaller Lutheran (3%) and Greek Catholic (3%) minorities. However, these census figures are representative of religious affiliation rather than practice; an estimated 10-14% of Hungarians attend religious services at least once a week and fewer than 50% at least once a year, while 30% of Hungarians do not believe in God.

For historical reasons, significant Hungarian minority populations can be found in the surrounding countries, notably in Romania (in Transylvania), Slovakia, Serbia (in Vojvodina), Ukraine (in Transcarpathia), Croatia (mainly Slavonia) and Austria (in Burgenland); Slovenia is also host to a number of ethnic Magyars, where Hungarian language has an official status.

The Roma minority

The real number of Roma people, known colloquially as "Gypsies", in Hungary is a disputed question. In the 2001 census, only 190,000 people called themselves Roma, but experts and Roma organisations estimate that there are between 450,000 and 600,000 Roma living in Hungary. Since World War II, the size of the Roma population has increased rapidly. Today every fifth or sixth newborn Hungarian child belongs to the Roma minority. Estimates based on current demographic trends claim that in 2050 15-20 percent of the population (1.2 million people) will be Roma.

Romas (called cigányok or romák in Hungarian) suffer particular problems in Hungary. School segregation is an especially acute one, with many Roma children sent to classes for pupils with learning disabilities. Currently slightly more than 80% of Roma children complete primary education, but only one third continue studies into the intermediate (secondary) level. This is far lower than the more than 90% proportion of children of non-Roma families who continue studies at an intermediate level. The situation is made still worse by the fact that a large proportion of young Roma are qualified in subjects that provide them only limited chances for employment. Less than 1% of Roma hold higher educational certificates. Their low status on the job market and higher unemployment rates cause poverty, widespread social problems and crime

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