Definition of Youth

There are competing definitions of youth in Singapore. The Children and Young Persons Act (1993) defines a young person as 14-16 years while the National Youth Council defines youth as 15-35 years.


Marriageable Age

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

Candidacy Age

Criminal Responsibility

Minimum Age
From 7-12 years old, the state must prove criminal capacity. A child below 7 cannot be held legally responsible for their actions. Source:  Penal Code of Singapore

Majority Age


Voting Age


Compulsory voting.
Source:  Inter-Parliamentary Union

Situation of Young People

Literacy Rates

Both sexes (15-24) %
  • 99.85% Male (15-24) %
  • 99.85% Female (15-24) %

Net Enrolment Rate

Secondary School
Both sexes %
  • --Male %
  • -- Female %
  • Year: No data.
  • Source: UNESCO

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) %
  • 10.50% Male (13-15) %
  • 7.50% Female (13-15) %
  • Year: 2010
  • Source: WHO

Policy & Legislation

Is there a national youth policy?
Singapore has no dedicated youth policy, but a government-run council for coordination.

While there is a Children and Young Persons Act (1993), there is no youth policy or law dedicated to the wider youth demographic or youth issues.   The Children and Young Persons Act,  

provide[s] for the welfare, care, protection and rehabilitation of children and young persons who are in need of such care, protection or rehabilitation, to regulate homes for children and young persons and to consolidate the law relating to children and young persons.
  Issues addressed by the Act include protection of children and young persons; juvenile court; homes for children; and juvenile rehabilitation.   As a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, Singapore 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 Ministry for Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) has responsibility for youth affairs. The MCCY aims to support youth to “fulfill their aspirations and interests,” to encourage youth engagement in the community, and to foster youth leadership.   The MCCY has several key programmes, including grants and funding to support youth initiatives and the youth sector, and Community and Youth Leadership Schools run in partnership with the Ministry of Education. The MCCY is also launching the first intake of a new National Youth Corps programme in June 2014.

Youth and Representation

Does the country have a national youth organisation / association (council, platform, body)?
The National Youth Council Singapore (NYC) was created by the Singaporean government in 1989 as the “co-ordinating body for youth affairs in Singapore”. Chaired by the Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, the NYC has a vision of “inspired and committed youth”. The NYC runs several programmes, including an annual youth award and a resource hub. The level of direct involvement of youth and youth-orientated organisations in the NYC is unclear.

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 Singapore Budget 2014 for the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth allocates SGD 10.8 million (USD 8.6 million) to the National Youth Programme. There is no further breakdown of expenditure on youth policy, affairs or programmes. According to the World Bank, Singapore spent 18.11% of its government expenditure and 3.05% of its GDP on education provision in 2013.
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 May 2014).

Additional Background

From Understanding Youth Issues In Selected Countries In The Asian and Pacific Region (2007):  
The Government of Singapore envisions socially-aware active youth citizen for youth development in the 21st century. It defines youth development as the active process by which young people are engaged, equipped and empowered to be active citizens in society. This is characterized by a purposeful strength-building approach. Rather than categorizing young people according to their deficits, the Singapore model of youth development aims to build upon the creative capacities inherent within each person. One of the challenges identified for youth development in the 21st century is to nurture the youths to be highly adaptable to all environments and personal worlds where they operate in such as career, school, and relationships with peers, parents or colleagues. They are required to be equipped with the appropriate mindset, personal mastery of necessary skills and operate by a youth creed which ties them to the community in Singapore while they make their mark in the wider society.
There is a need for a platform to promote common understanding and facilitate a more integrated approach to developing the youth of Singapore in line with the common vision.
There is an increasing call to upgrade the skills and knowledge of youth workers, particularly when the youth of today are growing more complex with the greater diversity of interests. Singapore education is making changes and refinements within a system that is already recognized for its strength so that it continues to keep in step with the future [...] While it is important to place a strong emphasis on educational achievements, there should be recognition of multiple intelligences in developing youth potential and well-rounded development that celebrate different areas of success. Recognition should also be given for the processes involved and effort put in, in addition to the outcomes and success indicators. A range of role models are required to inspire youths with different interests and backgrounds.
A large section of the youth in Singapore considers that the youth development programmes and community service activities do not attract their peers because of lack of funs. Experiential learning should be incorporated into such programmes so that learning could be interesting and youthful [...]
Lack of self-esteem is often highlighted as a major issue affecting young people which often start during the formative years of childhood. It becomes a bigger problem when youth are seen as lacking the initiative to handle responsibility or to purse their dreams. It is also an impediment towards communicating effectively and keeping an open mind to new ideas. There is a perceived lack of interaction and integration among youths with different learning abilities in Singapore. Leaders of youth programmes are often over-represented by high academic achievers. There is also a need to promote multisectoral cooperation among the youth service providers. This would allow the sharing of resources, exchanging ideas, best practices and professional expertise which would in turn greatly enhance the scale and outreach of projects.