Hungary Magazine

5 things Hungarians do better than anyone else

Budapest, Hungary – Last but not least: after Czechs, Slovaks and Poles, let’s have a look at the areas where Hungarians top the charts, for better or for worse…

1. Having female teachers

Chances are that, if you grew up in Hungary, your teacher was a woman. The country has the highest proportion of female teachers in primary school in Europe: only 3% of them are men! Sure, women are over-represented among primary school teachers in all European states: 1.7 million out of a total of 2.1 million teachers (85%). But some countries, like Denmark or Greece for instance, employ 30% of male teachers.

The situation slightly changes during secondary school, with “only” 71% of female teachers in Hungary. This rate is still higher than the EU average (64%), but lower than a handful of countries like Lithuania (over 80%) or Bulgaria (79%).

2. Using social media

A little-known fact about Hungarians is that they’re the most social media savvy population in Europe: 83% of Internet users aged 16 to 74 are active on at least one social network, 20 percentage points higher than the average European! They also stand out when compared with their Central European neighbours: 60% in Poland and 55% in the Czech Republic. Young Hungarians (16-24) are, of course, the most enthusiastic users: 97% of them are active on social media – once again, number 1 in Europe – compared to 55% of their elders.

These figures may not be that surprising considering that one of the first social platforms, iWiW, was invented there, a few years before a group of Harvard students launched Facebook. iWiW boasted more than 4 million users at the peak of its success, but eventually closed down in 2014. Today, Mark Zuckerberg’s global behemoth is the most popular social media in Hungary, with approximately 5.5 million users, followed by YouTube, Google+ and Instagram.

If Hungarians are the most social media savvy individuals, the country fares much worse when we consider corporate use: strangely, only 40% of Hungarian companies with Internet access are active on social media – one of the lowest rates on the continent.


3. Winning Olympic medals

You might also be surprised to learn that Hungary is one of the top-performing countries of all time in the Olympics. All (Summer) Games included, the country won 175 gold medals (1 gold medal / 57.000 people), thus ranking second in terms of gold medals per capita after Finland. If we also take into account silver and bronze medals, Hungarians athletes rank third – after Finland and Sweden – with 491 medals (1 / 20.000 people).

How and when did this happen, you ask?

– Hungary performed particularly well at the 1952 Helsinki games (42 medals), the 1972 Munich Games (35 medals) and in Moscow eight years later (32 medals). Unfortunately, they haven’t been able to match their past performances in recent games, bringing back less than 20 medals ever since the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

– And in which sports do their athletes excel? In fencing (86 medals), canoeing (80), swimming (73) and wrestling (54), as well as gymnastics and athletics (40 each).

To be completely fair, we should also add that Hungarians don’t fare as well when it comes to Winter sports. Far from it, actually: the country won a whooping total of… 7 medals since the 1924 Chamonix Winter Olympics.

Looking at the country’s geography, we should cut them some slack though…

4. Suffering from depression

This article is also bringing bad news. Hungary has the highest rate of people suffering from depression in Europe: 10.5% of the adult population report experiencing depressive symptoms, compared to an EU average of 6.8%, according to a thorough Eurostat survey. Interestingly enough, their Czech (3.2%) and Slovak (3.5%) neighbours appear to suffer the least from that crippling mental disorder.

This data should, of course, be handled carefully: theses figures are based on the population’s self-diagnosis of “depressive symptoms”, not clinical cases of depression.

However, other studies seem to corroborate this observation. For instance, Hungary ranks among the last countries in the OECD’s life satisfaction index. It also has one of the highest suicide rates in Europe, with 19 deaths caused by self-harm for every 100.000 citizens (along with Latvia and Slovenia) and only topped by Lithuania (32 suicides / 100.000 inhabitants).

One of the (many) factors may be the lack of qualified medical personnel, causing grave deficiencies in the prevention and treatment of the illness. Whereas other countries suffering the most from depression also have the highest numbers of psychiatrists (around 25 per 100.000 inhabitants in Finland, Sweden or Lithuania), Hungary lags far behind (10 per 100.000 citizens).

The sole explanation? Surely, no. But part of the problem, most probably.

Current depressive symptoms
Share of the population experiencing depressive symptoms (Eurostat)

5. Not working on week-ends

Let’s finish on a lighter note. Hungary has the lowest proportion of young employed working on weekends. At the EU level, nearly 30% of the people aged 20 to 34 usually work on Saturday and/or Sunday, compared to 11% in Hungary. At the other end of the spectrum, more than half of Greece’s youth has to work during the week-end.

Don’t get us wrong though: this doesn’t mean Hungarians work less than their neighbours: around 40 hours per week, in line with the EU average. It might simply imply that they’re better at separating professional and leisure time.

However, in what might seem like a contradiction with the previous statement, a growing number of young Hungarians have to find a job during their studies: the rate increased dramatically in the last few years, from 20% in 2009 to 60% today.

If you liked this article, be sure to check out the other episodes:

5 things Czechs do better than anyone else

5 things Slovaks do better than anyone else

5 things Poles do better than anyone else