Definition of Youth

Both the National Youth Policy (2012) and Youth Law (2011) consider youth to be those aged between 18 and 29 years old.


Marriageable Age

  • Opposite Sex
  • Same Sex
  • Without parental consent
  • with parental consent
  • Male
  • 18
  • 0
  • ++
  • Female
  • 18
  • 0
  • ++

  • No minimum age for opposite sex marriage with parental consent. Civil unions/partnerships legal. Source: UNSD, ILGA

Candidacy Age

Criminal Responsibility

Minimum Age
Adolescents, 12 to 18 years of age, are not imputable under criminal law, but are liable for their actions. Source:  Code of Children and Adolescents of Ecuador

Majority Age


Voting Age


Compulsory voting from 18-65 years. Voting is voluntary from 16-18 years, over 65 years.
Source:  Inter-Parliamentary Union

Situation of Young People

Literacy Rates

Both sexes (15-24) %
  • 98.83% Male (15-24) %
  • 98.82% Female (15-24) %

Net Enrolment Rate

Secondary School
Both sexes %
  • 73.10%Male %
  • 74.99% 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) %
  • 31.20% Male (13-15) %
  • 26.10% Female (13-15) %
  • Year: 2010
  • Source: WHO

Policy & Legislation

Is there a national youth policy?
Ecuador has a 2001 youth law. The2012-2013 youth policy focuses on equality.

The Ecuadorian Youth Law (2011) aims to protect the rights of youth aged 18 to 29 and to ensure the full development of youth as strategic actors in the country. The law is founded on the principles of equality; non-discrimination; participation; favourable treatment; responsibility (state, society and family) The national youth policy  (2012) focuses on nine policy areas including education, work, health, housing, culture, and participation, each of which are associated with indicators and performance measures. Article 39 of the Ecuadorian Constitution (2008) states that the government will guarantee and promote the young people’s rights (ex. health, housing, freedom of expression and association) through policies, programmes, institutions and resources. The National Plan for Good Living – 2013-2017, aims to reverse the growing trend of youth unemployment.

Public Institutions

Is there a governmental authority
(ministry, department or office) that is primarily responsible for youth?
The Ministry for Economic and Social Inclusion (MIES) led the inter-ministerial committee that formulated the national youth policy (2012). Although its focus is on the whole life cycle, the MIES is the government ministry with primary responsibility for youth and youth policy.  The Minister of MIES is president of the National Council for Children and Adolescents (to become National Council for Equality between Generations); an inter-ministerial and inter-agency body with responsibility for ensuring that youth obtains the rights enshrined in the constitution.

Youth and Representation

Does the country have a national youth organisation / association (council, platform, body)?
The Ecuadorian Youth Law (2011) states that “young people are entitled to participate in all matters which interest or affect them, especially in the design and evaluation of policies, actions and programmes” directly or through constituted organisations. The National Youth Policy (2012) aims to promote and strengthen the right of participation and public and political representation of youth. However, Ecuador does not have a national youth organisation or association that acts as a platform for youth involvement in decision-making.

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?
The Agenda for Equality of Youth (2012) states that there are no mechanisms for measuring and budgets of the actions of the institutions of power. According to the World Bank, Ecuador spent 13.28% of its government expenditure and 4.36% of its GDP on education provision in 2012.
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 Policies, Programmes and Projects for the Promotion of Labour Participation of Young People in Ecuador (2005) Original in Spanish, own translation:
27.7 % of Ecuador's population is young - with young defined as between 18 and 29 years old... The significance of youth in national demography, demands greater political will for the development of public policies aimed at youth. Access to the labour market is an area of particular importance to young people. Labour market access for large groups of youth is hampered by poor or inadequate education and skills, as well as lack of work experience. In particular young people in poverty, indigenous peoples, Afro-descendants, disabled, women and sexual minorities face discrimination in the labour market.
...These problems affecting youth [demand for skilled labour, impact of trade liberalization, expansion of the wage gap between skilled and unskilled, casualisation of labour relations] have not received an effective response from public institutions related to young people, employment policies or the labor market. The weakness of our institutions, and the lack of coordination between them contribute to an absence of policies, programs and projects for this segment of the population.
From Youth Employment and Migration – Country Brief: Ecuador (2013):
The issue for young Ecuadorians is not only access to employment but also access to decent work. The jobs they occupy are often low skilled and their employment conditions temporary and precarious. In 2010, the unemployment rate among youth aged 15 to 29 was 9.8 per cent, but their under-employment rate reached 54.9 per cent.
Ecuadorian out-migration flows jumped in the wake of the economic crisis that impacted the country at the end of the 1990s. More than half of the Ecuadorians that have left the country in the past decade are young people between the ages of 15 and 29. They represented 57.7 per cent of migrants according to the latest living conditions survey carried out by the Ecuadorian Institute of Statistics.