Hungary Population Drop Biggest in 102 Years on Virus

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Hungary’s population drop, as measured by deaths exceeding births, was the biggest in more than a century last year, with the eastern European Union one of the world’s worst-hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

The plunge of 48,667 was the highest since 1918, when the Spanish flu and World War I were the biggest contributing factors, data released Wednesday showed. The population has shrunk every year since 1982 and stood at 9.7 million at end-2020.

The 2020 print exceeds the 42,232 decline in 1945 during World War II, at least according to the statistics office’s database. Hundreds of thousands of Hungarians, mostly Jews, were killed during the Holocaust, when many of them were deported to Nazi concentration camps.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban was late in introducing lockdown restrictions during the second and third waves of the pandemic, contributing to Hungary having the most deaths as a share of population since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Hungary isn’t alone in suffering historic damage. Italy’s population also fell last year by the most since World I, while Australia recorded its first quarterly decline since 1916.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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