Definition of Youth

The national youth policy (2011) defines youth as between 18-35 years.


Marriageable Age

  • Opposite Sex
  • Same Sex
  • Without parental consent
  • with parental consent
  • Male
  • 21
  • 18
  • XX
  • Female
  • 19
  • 16
  • XX

  • Male homosexual acts illegal. Female homosexual acts legal. No specific legislation for same-sex marriage for females. Source: UNSD, ILGA

Candidacy Age

Criminal Responsibility

Minimum Age
From 8-14 years old, the state must prove criminal capacity. A child below 8 cannot be held legally responsible for their actions. Source:  UN Child Rights Periodic Report

Majority Age


Voting Age


Situation of Young People

Literacy Rates

Both sexes (15-24) %
  • 99.48% Male (15-24) %
  • 99.67% Female (15-24) %

Net Enrolment Rate

Secondary School
Both sexes %
  • 75.36%Male %
  • 84.38% 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) %
  • 25.80% Male (13-15) %
  • 20.40% Female (13-15) %
  • Year: 2010
  • Source: WHO

Policy & Legislation

Is there a national youth policy?
Samoa replaced its 2001 national youth policy in 2011. A 2011 book chapter and 2006 analysis exist.

The vision of the national youth policy (2011) is,

[f]or all young people to positively connect with their key spiritual, social, cultural, physical and economic environments through having equal access to opportunities and realize their full potential to pro-actively participate and contribute fully into sustainable community development.

Five policy objectives are defined with detailed outputs, performance indicators, responsible agencies and timeframe. These are:
  1. Building knowledge of youth development
  2. Vocational training
  3. Economic development opportunities for vulnerable youth
  4. Health & wellbeing
  5. Family relationships, community & social protection.
As a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, Samoa is a signatory of The Commonwealth Plan of Action for Youth Empowerment (PAYE) 2006-2015.

Public Institutions

Is there a governmental authority
(ministry, department or office) that is primarily responsible for youth?
The Division for Youth is a department within the Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development and has coordination responsibility for the national youth policy (2011).  Its vision is

For every Samoan youth to have the freedom to enjoy all human rights, with equal access and opportunities to participate & contribute fully to all aspects of development.

Previously, the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Cultural Affairs existed and authored the national youth policy (2001).

Youth and Representation

Does the country have a national youth organisation / association (council, platform, body)?
Samoa does not have a functioning national youth council (NYC), although the national youth policy (2011) outlines the establishment of one. According to the Samoa Observer it is controversial. The defunct Western Samoa National Youth Council is listed as a founding member of the Pacific Youth Council. Once an NYC is established, it would automatically qualify for membership within the Commonwealth Youth Council. The “Parliamentary Youth Programme” provides an annual mock session of parliament for young people under 29 years of age.

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?
WST 551,343
USD 237,077
According to the State Estimates 2013/2014, WST 551,343 (USD 237,077) is allocated to “Youth Development Services” listed under the Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development. According to the World Bank, Samoa spent 13.38% of its government expenditure and 5.77% of its GDP on education provision in 2008.
Total Expenditure on Education as a Percentage of Government Spending and GDP

  • % of GDP
  • % of gov. expenditure

Source: World Bank

Additional Background

The Urban Youth in the Pacific (2011) identifies a number of challenges and ‘resilience factors’ for urban youth in Samoa:

Youth crime and violence has been identified as an increasing problem. In this context it is encouraging that Government and CSO actors are committed to a new focus of crime prevention. A multi-sector approach will be required to address the risk factors underpinning youth crime. It is notable that participants in this study agreed on the major risk factors: unemployment, substance abuse, breakdown of families, poor education and urbanization. Exacerbating risk factors included globalization, and new modern/urban influences.

Resilience factors were primarily the reverse of the risk factors: good role models to give advice, strong family and cultural ties, opportunities for training and employment. A theme linking all of the factors, both positive and negative, is youth participation. Whether or not youth have opportunities to communicate to adults and participate in activities – whether to earn money, to give voice to their views and concerns, or to merely gain support and encouragement – contributes to their probability of achieving successful outcomes.

Health risks are a significant problem according to the national youth policy (2011):

The 2006 Situational Analysis on Children, Women and Youth noted that the leading cause of disease or ill health among the youth are injuries and poisoning associated with risk behavior like cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption and suicide. Mental health risks are a similar concern, particularly where suicide, as reported also in the 2010 Government of Samoa MDG’s progress report remains a significant problem, and demands specific interventions. Other significant causes of death for youth include diseases of the circulatory system, infectious diseases and cancer.