Regional Differences in Development and Quality of Life in Hungary During the First Third of the Twentieth Century*
University of Debrecen
In this essay, I look for answers to the following three questions: to what extent did the borders of Hungary after the 1920 Treaty of Trianon overlap with borders of structural development in 1910 and in 1930; what does the term “development” mean when we are talking about the Carpathian Basin; and how did geographical differences in standards of living change in the territories under discussion over the course of these two decades. To some extent, the new political borders which were drawn in 1920 in the Carpathian Basin overlapped with the borders which reflected the different levels and patterns of development in the region. This is a consideration which has been given little attention in the secondary literature in Hungary. The developmental structure of the Carpathian Basin in 1910 can be mapped using the GISta Hungarorum Database. One discerns in this structure a major line of development. Within this line, one finds an area in which the level of development was higher than average and, in some places, considerably higher than average. Another distinctive feature of this area was that is had several centers, and this fact was of particular importance from the perspective of the Treaty of Trianon and its alleged consequences. In recent years, groundbreaking research on economic history has persuasively shown that Hungary managed to recover economically relatively quickly after 1920. Numerous factors played a role in this recovery. One of the more decisive, I argue in this study, was the geographical developmental structure of Trianon Hungary, which had several centers. Although the territory of Trianon Hungary was considerably more developed than other areas of the Carpathian Basin, it is quite clear that the economic fault lines which existed after Trianon had in fact existed before Trianon too, and the internal peripheral areas had already formed (and remained essentially unchanged throughout the interwar period). Thus, the Treaty of Trianon did not play any role in the emergence of formation of these areas. The treaty may well have had grave consequences for the country and region, but the developmental geographical structure of Hungary in the interwar period, which ultimately exerted a shaping influence on development in Hungary for the rest of the twentieth century, was not a result of Trianon.
Keywords: HDI change, regional differences in development, Interwar Hungary