Definition of Youth

Bolivia’s Youth Bill of Rights defines youth as between 18-30 years of age.


Marriageable Age

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

  • No specific legislation for same-sex marriage. Marriages between adolescents have to be approved by their parents. However, if the parents do not give their consent, a judge may authorise the marriage. Source: UNSD, ILGA

Candidacy Age

Criminal Responsibility

Minimum Age
The Code, reformed in 2014, holds 14- and 15-year-olds liable for crimes. At the same time, the law prevents youth under 18 from receiving the same sentences as adults. Source:  Children and Adolescents Code of Bolivia

Majority Age


A child is defined as up to 18, however in some exceptional cases, provisions can also apply to those up to 21. Source: Law of Children and Adolescents (1999)

Voting Age


Compulsory voting.
Source:  Inter-Parliamentary Union

Situation of Young People

Literacy Rates

Both sexes (15-24) %
  • 99.18% Male (15-24) %
  • 98.89% Female (15-24) %

Net Enrolment Rate

Secondary School
Both sexes %
  • 67.69%Male %
  • 69.00% 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) %
  • 24.70% Male (13-15) %
  • 16.60% Female (13-15) %
  • Year: 2010
  • Source: WHO

Policy & Legislation

Is there a national youth policy?
The latest national youth plan of Bolivia covered 2008-2012. A 2012 youth rights bill exists, too.

The national youth plan (2008-2012) explores the rights of young people, current situation and presents five strategic areas: education, health, decent work, citizenship & participation and strengthening institutions for better strategies and programmes for youth. However, this has since expired and it is unclear if it will be renewed, or if a new policy will take its place. The youth rights bill was established in 2012 detailing the rights and responsibilities of youth Bolivians.

Public Institutions

Is there a governmental authority
(ministry, department or office) that is primarily responsible for youth?
The national youth plan (2008-2012) details the establishment of a cross-ministerial working group in order to respond to and implement the plan, however no cross-ministerial working group, Ministry of Youth nor department can be found online. The Vice-Ministry of Equal Opportunities at the Ministry of Justice is frequently the coordinating ministry for official youth documents such as the youth rights bill, Immediate action plan for the deprivation of liberty of adolescents and youth (2013) and the National Survey of Adolescents and Youth (2008).

Youth and Representation

Does the country have a national youth organisation / association (council, platform, body)?
No broad-based, national level youth organisation could be found in Bolivia. The Bolivian Children’s Parliament (12 – 17 years), organised by the Bolivian Children’s Alliance, hold their annual session in the National Congress. According to the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy, the Bolivian Foundation for Multiparty Democracy’s (FBDM) youth programme will use the newly introduced right to public participation in law-making to, to establish a National Youth Parliament, start a training programme for young political leaders, and initiate activities aimed at improving the political participation of women.

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?
According to the Open Budget Index, no executive budget proposals classified by ministry, department nor agency are published. According to the World Bank, Bolivia spent 24.6% of its government expenditure and 7.6% 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

Additional Background

According to, Formulating and Implementing National Youth Policy: Lessons from Bolivia and the Dominican Republic, a national youth policy and Presidential Decree were created in the late 1990s.

Bolivia approved a national youth policy in October 1998, and its president issued a decree on youth in February 1999. The health sector is taking the lead in implementing the policy, but tight budgets and changes in leadership have limited the government’s ability to mount a nationwide effort. Key elements in the success of youth policy efforts include influential support from top political leaders, a strong coalition of youth advocates from private groups, and consistent support from international agencies

Additionally, it came with funding: "The plan allocates $1.4 million for the administrative costs of carrying out the policy." The Presidential Decree:

Youth advocates had long pushed for the government to provide legal backing to any youth policy. These efforts succeeded in part when the Banzer Suárez government issued a presidential decree on youth in January 1999.

Despite this, funding and prioritisation have limited progress:

Reflecting the low priority the government has assigned to youth issues, the coordination effort of the Office of Family and Generational Affairs remains severely underfunded and understaffed. Only one full-time person works on youth issues. Although in theory the national youth plan provides ample funds, the government has released very little money for implementation. A major weakness of the presidential decree on youth is its lack of a funding mechanism. The shortage of funds has also hampered the establishment of the local youth committees called for in the presidential decree.