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Regional income inequality in Hungary has declined noticeably since 2010, a state secretary of the human resources ministry said, citing data from the Central Statistical Office. Bence Rétvári told MTI that the country’s gender pay gap has also narrowed compared with the left-liberal era. The annual per capita income has risen by over 40% on average in all eight of Hungary’s regions since 2010. And the rate of increase has been faster in the less developed regions, which has helped bring down regional disparity, he said.

Income inequality between the capital and rural Hungary has also declined. The difference between the average per capita income in Budapest and the poorest Northern Great Plain region was less than 10% last year. The Northern Great Plain region has seen the biggest increase in the employment rate since 2010 at 12.6%. The economically active population in this region has risen by 14% and the number of employed by 25%, he said.

Rétvári said the declining regional disparity has vindicated the government’s measures. While the policies of the Socialist governments before 2010 preserved income inequality levels by keeping people on welfare, the policy of creating a “labour-based society has shown a noticeable rise in living standards and a decline in inequality on a national level”. Employment levels have reached new highs and the unemployment rate is at a record low level. But inequality has also been declining in terms of the gender pay gap, which has narrowed by one-fifth over the past eight years. Whereas the difference between the incomes of men and women was 17.6% in 2010, by 2016 it was just 14%. Employment among women has also risen dynamically, going from 49.8% in 2010 to 62.5% this year.