Definition of Youth

The national youth policy (2009) of Latvia defines youth as between 13-25 years.


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. Homosexual acts legal. Source: UNSD, ILGA

Candidacy Age

Criminal Responsibility

Minimum Age
Source:  Criminal Law of Latvia

Majority Age


Source: Civil Law of Latvia (1997)

Voting Age


Situation of Young People

Literacy Rates

Both sexes (15-24) %
  • 99.79% Male (15-24) %
  • 99.87% Female (15-24) %

Net Enrolment Rate

Secondary School
Both sexes %
  • 82.86%Male %
  • 84.37% 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) %
  • 41.80% Male (13-15) %
  • 33.90% Female (13-15) %
  • Year: 2010
  • Source: WHO

Policy & Legislation

Is there a national youth policy?
Latvia has a youth lawyouth policy guidelines, and a programme. An international review was done.

The Youth Act (2008) aims to improve the quality of life of young people, promoting their priorities and encouraging patriotism and participation. It also aims to support those working with young people.   The basic youth principles include: Participation; Equal opportunity; Addressing youth issues; Integration; Mobility; International cooperation.   The Youth Policy Guidelines 2009-2018 aims to facilitate the implementation and coordination of the youth policy by identifying areas of action and creating a vision for the improvement of young peoples’ quality of life. The guidelines also set out the key challenges for youth, and sets out policy objectives and targets for the decade.   The National Youth Policy Programme 2009-2013 outlines measures in order to achieve the aims of the Youth Act.

Public Institutions

Is there a governmental authority
(ministry, department or office) that is primarily responsible for youth?
The Sports and Youth Department within the Ministry of Education and Science has the primary responsibility for youth policy and issues. Its major tasks include promoting cooperation and implementing youth measures, organising trainings for youth workers, and enabling access to information.   Municipalities have responsibility for implementing youth policy through the creation of local youth policy planning documents.   A Youth Advisory Council exists to promote a coherent youth policy and encourage youth participation in decision-making and public life.

Youth and Representation

Does the country have a national youth organisation / association (council, platform, body)?
The Latvian Youth Council (LYC) was founded in 1992. Its mission is to represent the interests of young people and to improve the quality of their lives. The LYC promotes the importance of youth organisations and encourages the development of cooperation and public participation in political processes.   The LYC’s objectives include advocating for youth policy based on young people’s needs, promoting youth participation in decision-making, and supporting the development of youth organisations by increasing access to information and government funding.

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 2014 State Budget and Special Budget Summary allocates EUR 338.8 million (USD 467.3 million)to the Sports and Youth Department within the Ministry of Education and Science. The proportion specifically for youth is unknown. According to the World Bank, Latvia spent 11.33% of its government expenditure and 5.02% 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

From the Council of Europe report Youth Policy in Latvia (2008):  
Youth policy delivery, below the national level and outside the privileged settings of Riga and other major cities, is insufficient and largely in the making. The concentration of resources remains high and regional disparities in the availability of youth activities are considerable. Furthermore, the perception at the centre of youth policy-making suffers from an overestimation of the actual capacities of municipalities.
  A European Commission and Council of Europe Country Sheet on Youth Policy in Latvia (2013) gives some context to youth policy in Latvia:  
The development of Latvian youth policy has to be assessed in context of socio-political challenges associated with Latvia’s late transformation. From the mid-1990s onwards, Latvian youth policy, like many other policy areas, started to evolve as a contested policy field at the intersection of traditional interests… For instance, on one hand, and most visible, structured leisure time activities (that is “hobby and interest education”), similar to those of the former communist structures of youth management, continued to exist as an important element of youth policy. On the other hand, international co-operation and counseling in youth policy development and youth work introduced new concepts to the Latvian context. These included civil society development by facilitating participation, establishing NGOs, promoting autonomy and non-formal methods of education and training.
The high status of education in Latvia is reflected in many ways… The increasing participation in upper secondary education is indicative of the general striving for advanced educational merits as well as, clearly, reflective of the rather bad reputation of vocational and professional tracks. This development causes great concern among Latvian authorities and systematic attempts to anticipate processes of matching labour market are still at an early stage… Involvement in higher education, especially at the bachelor and masters level, has become a popular way of postponing career decisions among young people and of escaping the labour market that characterised youth transitions in Latvia until recently [...]
The school reform of 2004 introduced extensive compulsory teaching in Latvian in minority schools, most of them for young Russians. In this way, the Russian language in particular is further marginalised, despite its rather significant importance in economic terms, as well as on everyday basis [...]
Although the Latvian labour market has recovered during recent years, unemployment remains a key problem affecting young people. Regional differences persist and continue to reinforce social inequalities. Labour market participation is additionally affected for young women by an absence of relevant child care and pre-school facilities, as well as by high female unemployment after maternity leave.