Hungary Beset By Growing Regional Differences

  • 24 Oct 2014 9:00 AM
Hungary Beset By Growing Regional Differences
The gap between the fast-growing and sluggish regions of Hungary is widening, we learn from a new study on the status of the country's various districts. Budapest and the northwest regions are head and shoulders above the rest, in particular the northeast and the disadvantaged areas along the Dráva River in the southwest corner of the country.

The latest project by the Economic and Enterprise Research Institute attached to the Hungarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry included a list of the country’s districts set up in order of development level.

The accompanying analysis shows that Hungary has been split in two with the difference between the two parts steadily growing. The study offers a summary that focuses on the richest and poorest districts. Budapest and environs and the northwest are most strongly linked to the European Union and are advancing economically and socially, while the rest of the country is drifting farther downward from the European average.

“We just need to look at the interval since the year 2000 for it to become obvious that the development gap within Hungary is getting wider. The regions that were best off at around 2000 are the ones where economic growth has continued to be above average.

“More specifically, I’m talking about Budapest and the other districts within the Budapest commuter belt, and the northwest, particularly the district around the city of Győr,” said to Magyar Nemzet geographer András Nyeste, one of the researchers responsible for the project.

Nyeste and fellow researcher Bence Bublik ran evaluations of Hungary’s 176 districts using 25 categories including economic, social, education, and employment data. They relied principally on figures collected by the Central Statistics Office (KSH) between 2002 and 2013.

The indices incorporated figures for migration, Internet subscriptions, existing businesses, retail outlets, overnight stays by tourists, transport accessibility, and mortality and employment ratios.

The study was published in early August 2014 and each district was given a number between one and five, with one being the lowest and five the highest grade. The figures make it clear that the gap between the poorest districts and the average for the country as a whole has been growing. Many districts in the northeast, and in the southwest along the Dráva River, are among the poorest. The districts in which county seats are located are among the more affluent ones and even within the most backward counties – Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén and Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg – the localities including the county centers are among the better off parts of the country. The Budapest districts received the highest ratings and the Bácsalmás district, adjacent to the Serbian border, got the lowest.

“We used a comprehensive development-level index of our own design for each district. It included 25 socio-economic data-sets,” Nyeste told us.

“The method was similar to the comprehensive indices used by the Statistics Office in 2007 when the 33 most disadvantaged micro-regions in Hungary were pinpointed. If we compare the two studies, it turns out that the most disadvantaged districts of Kistelek, Heves, Tamási, and Baktalórántháza improved somewhat more than the nationwide average, while Karcag, Törökszentmiklós, Tab, and Devecser went downhill.

Nyeste underlined that reasons for the better situation of the more urbanized districts included the higher educational level of residents and more advanced infrastructures. In Budapest, 70 percent of the over-18-year-olds are high school graduates and 34 percent of the over-25-year-olds are college grads. In the villages, on the other hand, only one third of the 18+ group has finished high school and fewer than 10 percent of the 25+ group graduated college.

Source: Magyar Nemzet

Translated by Budapest Telegraph

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