Definition of Youth

Poland’s National Youth Strategy (2003) defines youth as aged 15-25, however makes use of data from the Central Statistical Office that defines youth as aged 15-24.


Marriageable Age

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

  • Females can marry at 16 or 17 years old with parental and court consent. No specific legislation for same-sex marriage. Homosexual acts are legal. Source: UNSD, ILGA

Candidacy Age

Criminal Responsibility

Minimum Age
Children under the age of 15 cannot be incarcerated. Source:  Penal Code of Poland

Voting Age


Situation of Young People

Literacy Rates

Both sexes (15-24) %
  • 100.00% Male (15-24) %
  • 100.00% Female (15-24) %

Net Enrolment Rate

Secondary School
Both sexes %
  • 89.84%Male %
  • 91.16% 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) %
  • 26.00% Male (13-15) %
  • 31.70% Female (13-15) %
  • Year: 2010
  • Source: WHO

Policy & Legislation

Is there a national youth policy?
Poland’s youth strategy has expired. A 2011 youth report and 2012 briefing exist.

Poland has a National Youth Strategy that has now lapsed. Covering the years 2003-2012, its major objective was the “equalizing of developmental opportunities of the young generation”. It covered five key issues:  

  1. Youth education;
  2. Employment;
  3. Youth participation in public life;
  4. Leisure, culture, sport, tourism;
  5. Health and prevention.
The Ministry of National Education has initiated an evaluation of its strategy online, and requested the help of the Polish Council of Youth Organisations for this task. However, there is no indication if the strategy will be renewed, or if a new strategy will take its place. Moreover, a report on youth released in 2011 by the Office of the Prime Minister makes no mention of the 2003-2012 strategy, particularly in its “Recommendations for public policies” chapter.

Public Institutions

Is there a governmental authority
(ministry, department or office) that is primarily responsible for youth?
The Ministry of National Education (previously the Ministry of National Education and Sport) was the author of the National Youth Strategy (2003-2012) and is the ministry responsible for youth in Poland. It is also the co-financing institution for the European Commission Youth in Action programme (Erasmus+ as of January 2014). According to the Polish Council of Youth Organizations (PROM) website, the Ministry is a partner of PROM, and regularly cooperates with PROM on matters of law and policy relating to youth.

Youth and Representation

Does the country have a national youth organisation / association (council, platform, body)?
The Polish Council of Youth Organizations (PROM) is the national-level umbrella group of youth organisations in Poland. Established in 2011, it represents 26 Polish youth organisations and more than 250,000 young people. It aims to empower youth to have influence on policy and society. It is coordinated by an elected board and works in areas including the co-coordination of the Polish League of Young Voters and the European Commission Structured Dialogue initiative. As listed on the European Youth Portal, PROM has applied for membership in the European Youth Forum.

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?
As reported by in December 2013, the budget for "Education and Upbringing" for 2014 is PLN 39.9 billion (USD 13.1 billion), however it is unclear how much of this amount is specifically for youth. According to the World Bank, Poland spent 11.41% of its government expenditure and 5.17% 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 Youth 2011 (2011): Education
Undoubtedly the expansion of secondary education brought Poland closer to the group of modern countries, however, the scale of the change gave rise to new problems. The reversal of the vocational-to-secondary education ratio caused a de- cline in the percentage of students attending vocational schools which has currently resulted in the shortage of people prepared to perform some simple jobs. At the same time large numbers of young people enrolling at secondary baccalaureate schools increased the group of people aspiring at university education, including average graduates from average secondary schools with non-crystallised interests and indefinite professional preferences. The situation of higher education schools became radically different as a result of the changes and under the broader circumstances (among which the economic transformations, changes on the labour market, increasing impact of globalisation processes should be considered the most significant ones). The schools had to face not only the influx of large numbers of students (originating from the old and new baby boom), but also the competition on the education market and new qualitative requirements (determined – on the one hand – by the expectations of students and their demands for greater pragmatisation of the offered knowledge, and on the other hand by the educational standards and other normative regulations imposed by the authorities).
Apart from forecasted employment problems (limited number of jobs), problems resulting from sector changes caused by economic transformations (Fig. 5.10) should be anticipated. Sectors, in which young people have easily found employment so far (trade, gastronomy, hotel industry, finance industry) show moderate saturation. Other – slightly popular among the young, but in a way absorptive (agriculture, mining, construction industry) – display stable or falling trend11. Job offers will come mainly from the public sector and industrial manufacturing.
Considering the trends, both cases are related to qualified employees, more and more sought-after on the market. It is an important piece of information for both the youth (who sometimes seem disappointed with the acquired education or who study easily accessible or popular majors), and the education sector (which, from the point of view of economic needs and market demands, balances on the verge of professional uselessness of most graduates). Such a great scale of mismatch, distinguishing Poland among OECD states, is not only a matter of inconsiderate educational choices of the young, but also of the educational industry’s offer (especially that of universities), which is not prepared for appropriate reaction to changes in its environment.
From Country Sheet on Youth Policy in Poland (2011):  
One of the aims in the general strategy is to create proper conditions for a good life of the young generation (from the second demographic boom after the war), which now is entering adult life. The generation is seen a motor of change which has capabilities to tackle demographic challenges through its dynamic economic activity. This generation was shown as the one which has gone through the experience of radical change in Poland: change of the political system, educational explosion, entrance to EU and consequent wave of migration, opening to other cultures, decomposition of social status of their parents, information revolution and – recently – global economic crisis on the large scale.
The most important challenges towards youth in Poland today are, most of all, transition from education to the labor market and further toward independent living. Their often precarious job situation, non-permanent job contracts disallow them from further investment in housing or family. Childbearing decisions depend a lot also on the situation of women at the labor market as well as lack of mechanism for reconciliation of the family and work (mostly lack of care facilities). It was also stressed in the strategy that we need to aim at empowering women, which due to their intensive investment in education, are yet underused potential for development. Other important aim in the light of strategy is preparation for a foreseen immigration to Poland as well as return of the migrants who have left Poland after EU accession