Definition of Youth

The Estonian Youth Work Act (2010) defines youth as between 7 and 26 years of age. This is the same range of age used in the 2006-2013 Youth Work Strategy.


Marriageable Age

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

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

Candidacy Age

Criminal Responsibility

Minimum Age
Source:  Penal Code of Estonia

Majority Age



Voting Age


Situation of Young People

Literacy Rates

Both sexes (15-24) %
  • 99.96% Male (15-24) %
  • 99.97% Female (15-24) %

Net Enrolment Rate

Secondary School
Both sexes %
  • 90.38%Male %
  • 90.94% 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) %
  • 33.80% Male (13-15) %
  • 27.80% Female (13-15) %
  • Year: 2010
  • Source: WHO

Policy & Legislation

Is there a national youth policy?
The youth policy of Estonia is based on the 2010 youth work act and the 2006 youth work strategy.

According to the Estonian Youth Work Strategy 2006-2013, youth policy is all “coordinated and purposeful activities concerning the life of a young person”.  As such, the youth work strategy integrates the general area of youth policy with the narrow area of youth work, setting goals, measures and indicators of efficiency. Indicators include the number of youth participation in councils, the accessibility of hobby education, the range and accessibility of youth information and the size of the youth research network. The  Youth Work Act (2010) provides the legal basis for youth work, defined as “the creation of conditions to promote the diverse development of young persons”. It sets out which institutions are responsible for youth work, its financing and the liability of those who work with youth.

Public Institutions

Is there a governmental authority
(ministry, department or office) that is primarily responsible for youth?
As argued in Youth and Public Policy in Estonia (2012), the creation of one central coordinating unit (ex. a Ministry of Youth) was not the goal of the youth work strategy, but rather an integrated youth policy based on information exchange between various actors. This exchange is coordinated by the Youth Affairs office in cooperation with the Estonian Youth Work Centre (EYWC). Both offices are set within the Ministry of Education and Research, identified in the strategy as the ministry responsible for its implementation.

Youth and Representation

Does the country have a national youth organisation / association (council, platform, body)?
The Estonian National Youth Council (ENL) is the representative body for youth, and an umbrella organisation for non-profit groups that deal with young people or perform youth work. As described in the youth work strategy, ENL delegates representatives from youth associations to the Council of Youth Policies - a governmental-civil society council that advises the Ministry of Education and Research, which is responsible for the implementation of the strategy. ENL advocates for youth interests in legislation and better financing for 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?
EUR 13.5 million
USD 18.5 million
According to the Country Sheet on Youth Policy in Estonia (2010), the budget allocated to the youth field (including the Estonian National Youth Council (ENL)) was EUR 13.5 million (USD 18.5 million). While the 2013 budget for the Ministry of Education and Research is available in the State Budget for 2013, it is not disaggregated by office or theme. Therefore, updated information on the budget for the youth field is unknown. According to the World Bank, Estonia spent 14.0% of its government expenditure and 5.7% 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

From the Country Sheet on Youth Policy in Estonia (2010):

The local government decides objectives of youth work that shall be implemented in its territory as well as determines methods for that. The Youth Work Act does not impose restrictions on possible objectives, it only provides that upon preparation of the development plan, representatives of youth associations must be included.

There is country government in each of the 15 counties and each of the county governments employs one chief expert on youth work. County governments also employ officials who, among other duties, carry out duties related to youth affairs: education and schooling, sports, cultural events, social assistance, delinquent behaviour, youth with special needs [...]

The main level of organisation of youth work is local government, which often delegates its youth work duties to the third sector by outsourcing certain services, if possible. Budgets of local governments appear amongst main sources to finance youth work. Pursuant to the Youth Work Act and the Local Governments Organisation Act, a local government is responsible for the organisation of youth work in its administrative territory [...]

In 2010, the Ministry of Education and Research has signed two international cooperation protocols with Finland and with Flemish community of Belgium. The cooperation with Finland is most extensive at the moment.

From Youth and Public Policy in Estonia (2013):

Today, Estonia is described as “one of the most advanced e-societies in the world” – it is the younger part of the population who most frequently use the Internet to get information and services. In 2010, 68 percent of households had access to the internet at home. [...]

The number of deaths in the youth population has changed substantially when compared with the years 2005-2010 – deaths were highest in 2007 (242) and lowest in 2010 (133). In the youth population (5-24 years) more than half the deaths (56%)occurred in the 20-24 age group.