Definition of Youth

Italy has no fixed definition of youth, age categories varying according to the aims of different youth initiatives. While some initiatives target the “traditional” youth bracket 15 – 24, the age category 15 – 35 is becoming more frequent.


Marriageable Age

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

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

Candidacy Age

Criminal Responsibility

Minimum Age
Under the age of 14, children who commit serious crimes maybe held in a judicial reformatory. Source:  Penal Code of Italy

Majority Age


Source: Civil Code (2000)

Voting Age


The voting age to elect the Senate is 25.
Source:  Inter-Parliamentary Union

Situation of Young People

Literacy Rates

Both sexes (15-24) %
  • 99.93% Male (15-24) %
  • 99.94% Female (15-24) %

Net Enrolment Rate

Secondary School
Both sexes %
  • 91.38%Male %
  • 92.43% 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) %
  • -- Male (13-15) %
  • -- Female (13-15) %
  • Year: No data.
  • Source: WHO

Policy & Legislation

Is there a national youth policy?
While there is no national youth policy, in 2006 the Ministry for Youth and Sports was founded and introduced a national youth plan. A 2011 briefing and 2012 briefing have details.

The National Youth Plan introduced in 2006 identified the following focus-areas:

  • To facilitate access to the labour market for young people;
  • Develop the youth's skills and knowledge;
  • To promote creativity and culture;
  • To encourage representation;
  • Stimulate inter-religious and intercultural dialogue;
In November 2011, in reaction to the effects of the economic crisis, the government adopted a package of measures entitled “Diritto al futuro” (Right to the Future). According to the 2011 briefing, the Right to the Future” aims to “tackle the precarious conditions faced by young people”. It focuses on three key areas affecting young people's development and well-being: employment, housing, and family.

Public Institutions

Is there a governmental authority
(ministry, department or office) that is primarily responsible for youth?
The Department of Youth and National Civic Service, established in 2008 in place of the Ministry for Youth Policies and Sports, is responsible for the organisation of activities to implement youth policies, coordination of international youth exchange schemes, and tackling issues affecting youth. The 2011 briefing notes that the EU Youth Strategy has reinforced a “cross-sectorial approach” towards youth policies, mainstreamed across a range of Ministries including work on “school, university, work, welfare, housing, the environment and social services.

Youth and Representation

Does the country have a national youth organisation / association (council, platform, body)?
The National Youth Forum is an umbrella organization including over 75 youth groups, and a member of the European Youth Forum. It aims to create a space for debate and sharing of experiences of its diverse youth associations. In 2002 the Minister for Education created the National University Council, a body composed of 30 elected student representatives that advises and formulates proposals to the Ministry. Youth Councils exist in many Italian municipalities and regions with the aim to represent young people's needs and proposals to local political authorities.

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 Italian Parliament, in 2011 the budget for National Youth Fund (NYF) amounted to Euro 32.9 million (USD 45.2 million).  In 2011, a package of measures under the title of “Right to the future” was allocated Euro 216 million (USD 298 million) of the Youth Department. The 2013 “Stability Law” has reduced the NYF budget to 6,2 million Euro (USD 8.5 million). According to the Department of Youth and National Civic Service, transversal funding tackling youth-related issues such as support to precarious workers and housing aid also exist. According to the World Bank, Italy spent 9.05% of its government expenditure on education provision in 2009, and 4.50% of its GDP 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

According to the 2011 briefing on the National Youth Plan briefing, the main tasks of the Department of Youth and National Civic Service are:
  • The affirmation of youth rights; the expression, even as associations, of their instances and their interests; their right to participate in public life;
  • The promotion of young people's right to housing, to knowledge and technological innovation, the promotion and support of youth entrepreneurship and employment;
  • Promotion and support creative activities, cultural entertainment, leisure, cultural trips and youth;
  • Promotion and support of the access of young people to projects, programmes and international community funding;
  • The management of the Youth Fund;
  According to the newspaper “Il Sole 24 Ore”, in 2013 an estimated 400.000 Italian graduates left the country to pursue a career abroad. The Aspen Institute's 2012 report highlights:   The phenomenon of “brain drain”, the loss of highly skilled human capital and the inability to attract and retain skilled human capital from the rest of the world, heavily penalises the country in the context of a globalised world that increasingly competes on the basis of knowledge and innovation.   The 2012 Friedrich Ebert Stiftung report investigating youth unemployment in Italy examines the connection between the education system and the difficult access to the labour market, highlighting:
  • The excessively rigid education system, particularly in the tertiary stage, that results in very late entry to the labour market;
  • Insufficient contact between the world of education and the labour market, that prevents young people from gaining work experience;
  • The lack of an adequate vocational training system;
  • Furthermore, courses focus mainly on the theoretical aspects of a subject. Little attention is given to practical applications, thus preventing young students from learning the problem-solving skills that are extremely useful in the world of work. (...)
Another issue in Italy is the dualism between North and South: the unemployment rate of young people aged between 15 and 24 in the South of Italy is three times higher than in Central and Northern parts of the country