Targeted Investments and Local Action to Ensure Social Inclusion for Hungary’s Poorest

May 25, 2016

WASHINGTON, DC, May 25, 2016 — Targeted investments and effective local action can help eliminate the social and economic gap between Hungary’s poorest citizens and the rest of the society, say three reports prepared by the World Bank.

This requires concrete measures, such as coordinating national and local-level planning, investments for and implementation of social inclusion activities, learning from examples of what works and what does not, and acting “locally” by identifying and addressing needs at the community level.

The reports were developed in the framework of the Promoting Inclusive Growth in Hungary Advisory Service activity – a technical assistance financed through EU funds and commissioned by the Hungarian Ministry of Human Capacities.

As the country is facing the dual challenge of an aging and declining population, with fewer workers entering the labor market and more and more leaving it, better skills and improved job prospects for Hungary’s working age population are critical for long-term growth.

At the same time, a large share of Hungarian youth are struggling with the transition from school to work, and core skills are not acquired, particularly by students from disadvantaged and poor households. These challenges demonstrate the need for strategic investments in improving the access of the poorest and most vulnerable Hungarians to high quality education and learning, increased employment opportunities and adequate living conditions.

“A rich set of promising practices on social inclusion exist across Hungarian municipalities, but these interventions cannot generate sustainable results without strong support and mainstreaming by the national level,” said Arup Banerji, Country Director for the World Bank Operational Engagement in EU Member States. “To ensure inclusive growth, EU funds need to be well-targeted and well-spent. These efforts need to be supported through a well-coordinated institutional mechanism connecting the national and local levels. The success of social inclusion initiatives in Hungarian towns also requires that local mayors, civil society and communities work together to plan, implement, and monitor equal opportunity programs.”

The 2014-2020 financial framework of European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) provides a long-term opportunity for Hungary to invest in the social and economic inclusion of the most marginalized and disadvantaged families. To maximize the potential of EU funds, the reports prepared by the World Bank in the framework of the Promoting Inclusive Growth in Hungary Advisory Service activity, offer clear step-by-step guidance for addressing complex social inclusion challenges and examine three dimensions of social inclusion in Hungary:

Measuring Inclusive Growth for Enhanced Development Impact focuses on methods for monitoring development outcomes and better targeting of social investments.

Enabling Inclusive Growth in Hungary discusses how national-level planning can better support local planning and implementation.

The People Behind the Numbers, a handbook for the implementation of local equal opportunity programs in Hungary, offers practical guidance and instruments to empower local stakeholders to shape the local social inclusion landscape more actively and effectively as part of local Equal Opportunity Programs. 

Over the course of last year, the World Bank organized several workshops in Budapest, Pécs and Sárkeresztúr for mayors, local social inclusion professionals, academia, and civil society to implement some of the recommendations stemming from the three reports, highlighting the role of peer learning and knowledge sharing in informing social inclusion initiatives.

Together with the EU Fundamental Rights Agency and the Ministry of Human Capacities, the World Bank also co-organized an international seminar to discuss the challenges of defining and monitoring social inclusion of vulnerable groups, bringing together National Roma Contact Points, statisticians, and analysts from Central and Eastern Europe, as well as representatives from DG Justice and the Norway Grants.


This Press Release is also available in Hungarian (PDF)

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