Country Listing

Hungary Table of Contents



In the late 1980s, the country's pension system covered about 85 percent of the population falling within pensionable ages. Male workers could qualify for pensions at the age of sixty, female workers at the age of fifty-five. The number of pensioners had increased rapidly since the end of World War II as people lived longer and as pension coverage expanded to include additional segments of the population. In the early 1950s, the country had had only 12 to 13 pensioners for every 100 active workers. In the late 1980s, however, the country had 50 pensioners for every 100 active workers. This trend placed a heavy burden on the government, the main source of pension funds.

The amount of a person's pension depended upon earnings and number of years of employment. In 1989 the minimum monthly pension was 3,340 forints (about US$54). Yearly cost-of-living increases had failed to keep up with inflation. In 1979 the government introduced major pension increases for the lowest-paid pensioners in an effort to improve the situation. The most vulnerable pensioners tended to be women, whose pensions averaged 25 percent less than men's pensions. More women had small pensions than men because women generally had worked fewer years and earned lower salaries. About 20 percent of all pensioners, or about 400,000 persons, worked to bring in additional income, usually undertaking part-time or seasonal work. In the 1980s, pensioners constituted a significant segment of the country's poor. The unfortunate circumstances of many elderly citizens and the need to reform the pension system were the subjects of considerable press commentary.

Data as of September 1989