Definition of Youth

While Cuba has no youth policy, the Law 16/1978 on Childhood and Youth (1978) applies to individuals 30 years old or younger.


Marriageable Age

  • Opposite Sex
  • Same Sex
  • Without parental consent
  • with parental consent
  • Male
  • 18
  • 16
  • --
  • Female
  • 16
  • 14
  • --

  • No specific legislation for same-sex marriage. Source: UNSD, ILGA

Candidacy Age

  • Lower House
  • 18
  • Source:  Inter-Parliamentary Union The Communist Party is the official state party and was the only party contesting the election in 2008 and 2013.

Criminal Responsibility

Minimum Age
Source:  Penal Code of Cuba

Majority Age


Source: CRIN

Voting Age


Situation of Young People

Literacy Rates

Both sexes (15-24) %
  • 99.99% Male (15-24) %
  • 99.99% Female (15-24) %

Net Enrolment Rate

Secondary School
Both sexes %
  • 86.03%Male %
  • 87.32% Female %

Situation of Young People

Prevalence of HIV

Male (15-24) %
Female (15-24) %

Tobacco Use

Consumed any smokeless or smoking tobacco product at least once 30 days prior to the survey.
Both sexes (13-15) %
  • 19.80% Male (13-15) %
  • 15.00% Female (13-15) %
  • Year: 2010
  • Source: WHO

Policy & Legislation

Is there a national youth policy?
Cuba has no dedicated national youth policy. Recently, the youth policy approach was summarised.

While Cuba has no single, unifying youth policy, it does have a number of policies that affect youth. According to the report Youth and Social Inclusion in the 21st Century Cuba: Contribution from Public Policies to the Building of Knowledge (2013), such policies are governed by the following principles: comprehensive approach; social equity; high participation; differential treatment for disadvantaged social groups, and; priority for education, employment and health sectors.   The strategy is “youth promotion and social inclusion aimed at strengthening cultural, technical and vocational training”. Policies geared towards youth are characterised by considerable government centralisation, state funding and a promotion of universality and equity.

Public Institutions

Is there a governmental authority
(ministry, department or office) that is primarily responsible for youth?
There is no one governmental authority that is primarily responsible for youth. Policies regarding youth are cross-sectoral and spread over various policy areas. The lack of a group or entity responsible for the coordination of youth policies was identified as a weakness at the International Congress of Researchers on Youth in March 2013.   At inter-governmental forums, such as the Organizatión Iberoamericana de Juventud, the Young Communist League participates as the body responsible for youth alongside other youth ministries in the region. However, it identifies itself as a voluntary organisation.

Youth and Representation

Does the country have a national youth organisation / association (council, platform, body)?
Founded in 1962, the Young Communist League (UJC) is one of the main youth organisations in Cuba. As the youth wing of the Communist Party of Cuba, it is unclear what role it plays in representing youth outside of its membership, or in decision-making.   As described by Radio Rebelde, it identifies itself as a voluntary organisation with the objective to educate young people about the Cuban Revolution. UJC produces the newspaper Juventud Rebelde and represents Cuba in the Organizatión Iberoamericana de Juventud, the inter-governmental summit of youth ministries.

Budget & Spending

What is the budget allocated to the governmental authority (ministry, department or office) that is primarily responsible for youth and/or youth programming?
No documentation could be found on youth spending in Cuba. According to the World Bank, Cuba spent 18.35% of its government expenditure and 12.86% of its GDP on education provision in 2010.
Total Expenditure on Education as a Percentage of Government Spending and GDP

  • % of GDP
  • % of gov. expenditure

Source: World Bank
Gaps indicate missing data from the original data source. (Accessed August 2013).

Additional Background

From Youth and Social Inclusion in the 21st Century Cuba: Contribution from Public Policies to the Building of Knowledge (2013):  
In Cuba, social policies pay particular attention to the young, as there are a range of legal regulations that protect their rights: the Constitution of the Republic (1976), Law 1285/1975 of the Family Code, Law 16/1978 of the Childhood and Youth Code, Law 49/1984 of the Labour Code, Social Security Laws No. 24/1979 and No. 105/2009, Law 51/1985 of the Civil Registry, Law 59/1987 of the Civil Code, Laws 62/1987 and 87/1999 of the Penal Code, Cuban Electoral Law 72/1992, Law 75/1994 of the National Defence and Decree-law 224/2001 of the Military Service. The Cuban Parliament has a Permanent Commission for the welfare of children, the young, and women’s rights (1982) [...]
Youth policies are managed and funded by the State, through its ministries, and are characterized by being universal and free, at all levels, irrespective of age, gender, skin colour, religion, financial situation or place of residence. There is a strategy of youth promotion and social inclusion aimed at strengthening cultural, technical and vocational training, in order to promote development and encourage upward social mobility, while improving the quality of life of young people and ensuring their insertion into the workplace.
This educational policy is implemented in the form of a National System of Education, consisting of seven sub-systems that are organized according to each education level (primary, basic secondary, pre- university, technical professional, university, adult education and special education), enabling education to be accessed without any type of discrimination. The scope of the education system, the fact that it is free, and the compulsory nature of the primary and secondary levels of education, all combine to ensure high rates of schooling for children and teenagers [...]
  Information Technology:  
In this field, development has increased throughout the National Education System, from pre-school level right up to university level. All the teaching centres in the country have computer laboratories run by groups of teachers who are IT graduates. Furthermore, in all of Cuba’s provinces, Computing Polytechnic Institutes have been created, producing thousands of graduates every year whose insertion into the workplace is guaranteed by the State [...]
Cuba’s labour policy is a priority, with full employment as its basic objective, for which the State takes full responsibility. Its distinguishing features are the priority and differential treatment it gives to young people and it constitutes one of the main pillars of the strategy to foster their social inclusion.   Cuban legislation prohibits child labour, and establishes 17 years old as the minimum age of employment, although 15- and 16-year old teenagers may be offered a job under certain exceptional circumstances.
The Labour Code and other regulations, including the General Regulations on Labour Relations, provide teenagers and young people with the same employment rights and benefits as all other workers. At the same time, it lays out provisions designed specifically to protect them, and to ensure their preparation for and adaptation to the workplace, their professional training and their cultural development. The average age at which young Cubans enter the workplace is 19 years old. There are practically no differences between genders or geographical regions.