The Orbán-Effect?


Over the past 15 years the number of EU citizens living in Austria has increased by 65% (from a rough 450.000 to 740.000 people). This is easily explained with the EU's rules on freedom of movement, residence and work. In Austria, many have feared that the enlargement of the EU (mainly the one in 2004) would lead to an influx of people from the former Eastern Bloc. But this has not been the case, as the figures show. Their number rose by 70% over the same period (from approximately 250.000 to 430.000).

Taking a closer look there is an outlier within those new member states. Hungary. The number of Hungarian residents in Austria followed the overall development - until 2010. But from 2011 this figure shows a sharp trend upwards. Compared to the 65 or 70 percent from other states, the rise of Hungarians in Austria is at a tremendous 136% (31.000 to 72.000 people) over the past 15 years. What caused this boost?

It is always dangerous to mix up causality and correlation. It is possible that the singular event of the Hungarian Kolontár dam breaking (October 4th, 2010) is the reason for the observed change. But it could as well be caused by the outbreak of the notorious Eyjafjallajökull (starting March 20th, 2010). Or maybe the cause lies with the 2010 elections which brought Viktor Orbán's nationalistic, authoritarian and rightwing coalition into office. Of course, the reason could be something completely different too.

But the correlation of Orbán taking office and his radical and authoritarian changes within the country and the rise in emigrants is one of the more interesting (possible) explanations.

Interactive chart of resident aliens from EU countries in Austria

Data source: Statistik Austria