Definition of Youth

There is no universal definition of youth stemming from policy frameworks, but the biggest youth organisation, the Lao People’s Revolutionary Youth Union (LYU), uses the age-range of 15-30 years for its membership.


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. Homosexual acts are legal. Source: UNSD, ILGA

Candidacy Age

Criminal Responsibility

Minimum Age
Source:  Penal Law of Laos

Majority Age


Source: Constitution of Laos (2003)

Voting Age


Situation of Young People

Literacy Rates

Both sexes (15-24) %
  • 93.10% Male (15-24) %
  • 87.28% Female (15-24) %

Net Enrolment Rate

Secondary School
Both sexes %
  • 42.98%Male %
  • 39.71% 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) %
  • 7.80% Male (13-15) %
  • 3.90% Female (13-15) %
  • Year: 2010
  • Source: WHO

Policy & Legislation

Is there a national youth policy?
Laos has no national youth policy. A comprehensive youth analysis is currently being conducted.

For some time now, information on youth policies in Laos and their impact, and more fundamentally on the situation of young people more generally, was scattered and outdated.   UNFPA confirms the lack of data by stating in its country programme for Laos for 2012-2015 that there is “no comprehensive situation analysis on adolescents and youth.” They seek to respond to this deficit by providing “financial and technical assistance to conduct a comprehensive situation analysis on adolescents and young people” in the country.   A first planning workshop for the study was held in March 2013.

Public Institutions

Is there a governmental authority
(ministry, department or office) that is primarily responsible for youth?
There is no separate youth ministry in Laos, but rather “the responsibility of [Lao People's Revolutionary Youth Union (LYU)] is similar to Ministry of Youth and Sport existing in other countries”, as stated in a 2012 document, authored by the Lao People’s Revolutionary Youth Union (LYU) and addressed to the Human Rights Council Secretariat of the United Nations regarding Cuba’s Universal Periodic Review.   See the section on Youth & Representation below for more information about LYU.

Youth and Representation

Does the country have a national youth organisation / association (council, platform, body)?
The main youth organisation of the country is the Lao People’s Revolutionary Youth Union (LYU), the youth wing of the Communist Party governing the country. In 2005, then-Deputy Chief of LYU’s Cabinet claimed the organisation had 273,000 members and introduced the organisation’s two main objectives: i) to mobilize youth solidarity in implementing the goals of the Party; ii) to contribute to the construction and expansion of the People’s Democratic Regime, aiming to create peace, independence, democracy, unity and prosperity.

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?
No documentation on youth spending in Laos could be found online. According to the World Bank, Laos spent 13.19% of its government expenditure and 3.31% 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
Gaps indicate missing data from the original data source. (Accessed August 2013).

Additional Background

A network of international NGOs exists, with currently 75 members.  From their website:  
Initiated by the INGO community, the Network was established in January 2005 with initial support from the World Bank. [...] The Network presently has 72 full members and 3 associate members. It is mainly funded by membership fees. [...] The Network is a focal point for INGO information dissemination in the Lao PDR and exists to facilitate and enhance the work of its members. The primary focus is to facilitate liaison and information sharing among INGOs and other development partners as well as the Government of Laos. [...] The Network also represents its members in appropriate forums, promotes policy dialogue and supports the civil society in Laos.
  In 2009, a complementary network of in-country non-profit associations was created, which is now called Learning House for Development. From their website:  
Learning House for Development provides services both to its members and to the wider civil society community across Laos. Working in close co-operation with both national NPAs and iNGOs, services include capacity development activities, co-ordination of information sharing, incubator services for new NPAs, and information on funding opportunities and matching of donors & project partners to NPAs.