Definition of Youth

The national youth policy defines youth as between 15-24 years, but is targeted at “the entire population that currently is under 30 years of age.”


Marriageable Age

  • Opposite Sex
  • Same Sex
  • Without parental consent
  • with parental consent
  • Male
  • 18
  • 15
  • --
  • Female
  • 18
  • 14
  • --

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

Candidacy Age

Criminal Responsibility

Minimum Age
Source:  Juvenile Penal Law of El Salvador

Majority Age


Source: Juvenile Legal Code (1994)

Voting Age


Situation of Young People

Literacy Rates

Both sexes (15-24) %
  • 97.18% Male (15-24) %
  • 97.89% Female (15-24) %

Net Enrolment Rate

Secondary School
Both sexes %
  • 60.77%Male %
  • 62.45% 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) %
  • 18.20% Male (13-15) %
  • 11.00% Female (13-15) %
  • Year: 2010
  • Source: WHO

Policy & Legislation

Is there a national youth policy?
El Salvador has a national youth policy, an action plan and a youth law from 2013.

The national youth policy (2011-2024) offers long, medium and short terms goals. It details six priority areas of intervention:

  1. Education: Access, quality & building future human capital;
  2. Employment, productive development & entrepreneurship;
  3. Healthcare, risky practices & promotion of healthy lifestyles;
  4. Culture, entertainment & sport;
  5. Prevention of violence, public safety & peaceful culture;
  6. Youth participation & citizenship.
The Action Plan outlines short-term strategic programmes. A General Law of Youth (2013) guarantees the “fundamental rights of young people”, and focuses on “political, social, cultural and economic participation of young people in terms of equity and solidarity.”

Public Institutions

Is there a governmental authority
(ministry, department or office) that is primarily responsible for youth?
The National Institute of Youth, formed through the national youth policy (2011), is responsible for youth affairs. The General Law of Youth (2013), notes that National Institute of Youth is responsible for design, delivery and evaluation of “youth policies in the context of the public agenda.” Across government, youth policy is supported by an Inter-ministerial Commission on Youth and a national network of youth organizations, NGOs and experts. Previously, youth affairs was the responsibility for the Directorate of Youth under the Ministry of Social Inclusion.

Youth and Representation

Does the country have a national youth organisation / association (council, platform, body)?
The National Council of Youth (CONAPEJ) is a regionally elected advisory body within the National Institute of Youth. The purpose of the council is to “propose, evaluate, [and] promote” public policy. According to the National Institute of Youth, eight youth from across El Salvador are elected. The national youth policy establishes a National Network of Youth Organizations to “represent the opinion of organized youth” connecting regional, national and thematic youth organisations.

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?
USD 707.6 million
The Action Plan (2011-2014) details the projected budget for the enacted key priority areas of the national youth policy. Education (USD 294.68 million) and healthcare (USD 315 million) accounts for a vast majority of the budget. Is it unclear how these funds are distributed amongst differing government entities, such as between Ministries and the National Institute of Youth. According to the World Bank, El Salvador spent 13.13% of its government expenditure on education provision in 2010, and 3.41% of its GDP in 2011.
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

The national youth policy details responses from the National Youth Survey:

In 2008, the National Youth Survey was conducted, which collected the opinions, perceptions, attitudes and lifestyles of 1234 aged 15 to 24 years nationwide. The report (IUDOP, 2008) provides numerous extremely disturbing facts relating to the situation in which they find this group. Emphasizes that: – With regard to education, 1.4% said they did not have any formal education, 21.7% attended elementary, 36.8%, basic design studies, 30.4% had high school education and 9.8% had accessed college. At the time of the interview, 41.6% were studying (38.1% for women and 45.1% in men). –67.7% of the young people surveyed said not be working outside the home at the time of the survey and be verified significant differences by gender. Of all the young men interviewed, almost half (46.6%) reported working outside the home. For women, this situation corresponded to less than a fifth. Among the young people who were working at the time of the survey, 81.3% felt very or somewhat satisfied with their jobs, while only 18.7% said they were paid little or nothing. –In terms of coverage of basic services, nine out of ten young people nationwide have access to electricity service in their homes. 72.1% have access to drinking water, but this percentage is reduced by almost half the inhabitants of rural areas of the country. Practically only half of the respondents have the toilet train service, and most live in urban areas. When sewer service has access only just over 40% of the sample, where the urban-rural disparity is quite evident. –Regarding citizen interest in politics, the results indicate that the young people have generally low interest in this item: 25.5% no interest, 44.1% reported little interest, 16.7% expressed some level of interest and only 13.8% claim to have much interest. In terms of ideological self-identification, 12% is located in the far left, 28.8% in the center and 16.1%, on the far right. The remainder (12%) could not be located in any option or did not answer the question. –When asked about which is the country's main problem, there are two answers: those who believe that the main problem of the country is linked to economic matters (poverty, unemployment, etc.) And those that relate to the problems of violence and insecurity. The vast majority (78.6%) noted that the crime situation in the country increased or remained the same compared with 2006. Similarly, an even larger group (90.2%) said that during the year (2008) the economic situation had worsened or remained the same.