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Norway’s youth policy is made up of various policy documents from different sectors, targeting different aspects of the lives of young people. While the Ministry of Children and Families is responsible for overall youth policy, a number of other ministries also have strategies and measures regarding youth affairs and cooperate on such issues.
The Ministry of Children and Families, the primary authority on issues related to young people in Norway, generally defines youth as those aged between 13 and 26. A number of policies targeting youth set the upper age boundary at 26 and the lower boundary at 12 or 13, while the country's 2015 Plan on Child and Youth Policy Initiatives includes people between the age of 0 and 24.
Source: Child Welfare Act 2023
Source: Wikipedia Article on Majority Age (2024)
Source: Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU)
Source: Age Matters Research Project
Source: UNSD, UNDESA, ILGA
Source: COE Report Gender Recognition 2022
Norway's youth policy is made up of various policy documents from different sectors, targeting different aspects of the lives of young people. While the Ministry of Children and Families is responsible for overall youth policy, a number of other ministries also have strategies and measures regarding youth affairs and cooperate on such issues.
A general overview of the government's initiatives within the youth field is given in the 2015 Plan on Child and Youth Policy Initiatives. The plan was drawn up in collaboration among a number of different ministries, led by the Ministry of Children and Families. It includes initiatives for people aged between 0-24 (with particular emphasis on the age of 0-18), and points out both the cross-sectoral, cooperative nature of Norway's youth policy and the responsibility of municipalities in implementing it.
The Department of Childhood, Youth and Family Affairs within the Ministry of Children and Families is responsible for the design and coordination of overall youth policy, although other ministries also have a stake in youth affairs. Associated with the department is the Norwegian Directorate for Children, Youth and Family Affairs (Bufdir), which manages the Office for Children, Youth and Family Affairs (Bufetat). According to Bufdir, their main task is to "provide children, young people and families in need of help and support with appropriate, high-quality assistance nationwide."
The Norwegian Children and Youth Council (LNU), a member of the European Youth Forum, is an umbrella organisation for more than 100 children and youth organisations. Its work focuses on three areas: advocacy and representation in (national) politics; acting as a resource for members by offering courses; and organising the distribution of grants and financial support programmes to member organisations and beyond. Locally, Norway's Local Government Act (2018) obliges municipalities to establish youth councils or other participation bodies for young people.
According to the EU Youth Wiki, no official definition of youth work exists in Norway, and there are no top-level policies or regulations regarding the status of youth workers. However, there are a number of certifications and formal trainings to become a youth worker.
Youth work is mainly the responsibility of municipalities, both financially and administratively, but the delivery of youth work is not required for municipalities by law. National priorities - such as those set in the 2015 Plan on Child and Youth Policy Initiatives - guide the municipalities' implementation work. National funding grant schemes are also available to municipalities and voluntary organisations.
The main NGO in the youth work sector at the national level is Youth Work Norway (Ungdom og Fritid), which organises over 600 youth clubs, provides training for youth workers, sets quality standards, and acts as a political advocate.
Norway does not have a specific budget for youth policy, due to the fact that measures targeted at youth are usually integrated within wider national policy initiatives.
The Norwegian Directorate for Children, Youth and Family Affairs (Bufdir), according to its 2019 annual report, was allocated a total budget of NOK 9.9 billion (USD 922.3 million).
Source: Varieties of Democracy Indices
Source: European Youth Forum
Source: World Bank, UNDP, Our World in Data
From the EU CoE Youth Partnership's Country Sheet on Youth Policy in Norway (2020):
"Norwegian youth policy is cross-sectoral with emphasis on collaboration and coordination between local and central authorities, and with the voluntary sector. In addition, children and young people's participation is emphasised."
"Many national youth policy goals are not enshrined in legal regulations and do not trigger earmarked funds. Therefore, the municipalities have much freedom in how they implement and finance national policy goals, such as in the area of youth work."
"In Norway the youth population is often described as those aged 13-26, but this may vary according to the issues being addressed, or by sector. As many services, initiatives and measures target children and young people as one group and because young people over the age of majority enjoy rights and access to welfare services as adults it is not possible to report on a separate budget/public expenditure for youth specifically."
"Ministries allocate grants to municipalities to carry out projects targeting the child and youth population. The Directorate for Children, Youth and Family Affairs spent approximately NOK 684 million in grants to municipalities in 2019, out of which the largest grant was NOK 365 million for the strengthening of municipal foster homes. The grant scheme run by the Directorate of Health which aims to strengthen mental health and substance abuse prevention among children and young people as part of the municipalities' public health work had a budget of NOK 77 million in 2019. In the 2020 national budget NOK 422.1 million was allocated to a grant scheme aimed at strengthening and developing municipal health stations and school health services."
EU CoE Youth Partnership - Kramer, M. (2020). Country Sheet on Youth Policy in Norway. Retrieved from https://pjp-eu.coe.int/en/web/youth-partnership/norway.
European Commission - Youth Wiki. (n.d.). Norway - Overview. Retrieved on 20 June 2023, from https://national-policies.eacea.ec.europa.eu/youthwiki/chapters/norway/overview.
European Commission - Youth Wiki. (2022, 04 March). Norway - Youth Work - 10.1 General context. Retrieved on 20 June 2023, from https://national-policies.eacea.ec.europa.eu/youthwiki/chapters/norway/101-general-context.
Government of Norway - Ministry of Children, Gender Equality and Inclusion. (2015). Plan on Child and Youth Policy Initiatives. Original in Norwegian. Retrieved from https://www.regjeringen.no/contentassets/2b16dd79c34f46e49aa580b48b955af8/samlet-plan-for-barn-og-unge.pdf.
Government of Norway. (2018). Act on Municipalities and County Municipalities (The Local Government Act). Original in Norwegian_._ Retrieved from https://lovdata.no/dokument/NL/lov/2018-06-22-83/KAPITTEL_2-1#KAPITTEL_2-1.
Norwegian Children and Youth Council. (n.d.). About us. Retrieved on 08 November 2022, fromhttps://www.lnu.no/om-lnu/
Norwegian Directorate for Children, Youth and Family Affairs. (2019). Annual Report 2019. Original in Norwegian. Retrieved from https://bufdir.no/globalassets/global/nbbf/bufdir/arsrapport_2019_barne_ungdoms_og_familiedirektoratet_oppslag.pdf.