Definition of Youth

An analysis of youth participation (2011) states that most organisations and experts in Spain define youth as those aged 15 to 29 years.  A country fact sheet (2009) reports that youth associations are legally defined as formal gatherings of 14-29 year olds.


Marriageable Age

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

Candidacy Age

Criminal Responsibility

Minimum Age
The Juvenile Penal Law identifies different age brakets: 14 - 16 years old, 17 - 18 years old. Source:  Penal Code

Majority Age


Source: Spanish Civil Code (2009)

Voting Age


Situation of Young People

Literacy Rates

Both sexes (15-24) %
  • 99.72% Male (15-24) %
  • 99.77% Female (15-24) %

Net Enrolment Rate

Secondary School
Both sexes %
  • 94.89%Male %
  • 96.42% 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) %
  • -- Male (13-15) %
  • -- Female (13-15) %
  • Year: No data.
  • Source: WHO

Policy & Legislation

Is there a national youth policy?
Spain is discussing a draft white paper on youth policy. A 2012 briefing adds detail and context.

A National Report on the EU Youth Strategy 2010-2012 (2012) states that no national level youth act exists. Under Spain’s decentralised structure, responsibility for youth sits with the Autonomous Communities.   Between 2008-2011, a White Paper on Youth Policy in Spain 2020 was drafted. This was expected to establish a comprehensive, nationwide strategy on youth. It is unclear whether this has been adopted.   The Strategy for Youth Entrepreneurship and Employment 2013-2016 (2013) aims to improve young people’s employability, promote youth employment, equal opportunities and entrepreneurship.   Article 48 of the Spanish Constitution (1978) states that “public authorities shall promote conditions for the free and effective participation of young people in political, social, economic and cultural development”.

Public Institutions

Is there a governmental authority
(ministry, department or office) that is primarily responsible for youth?
The Youth Institute (INJUVE) is a public body under the Ministry of Health, Social Services and Equality. INJUVE aims to promote equal opportunities, facilitate youth participation in political, social, economic and cultural development, and to encourage cross-governmental collaboration. INJUVE develops international cooperation through programmes of the European Union, Council of Europe, and Ibero-American Youth Organisation, runs the Spanish Youth Observatory, provides grants and technical support to youth associations, and promotes Youth Information Services.

Youth and Representation

Does the country have a national youth organisation / association (council, platform, body)?
Law 18/1983 legislated for the establishment of the Youth Council of Spain (CJE). The CJE is a platform organisation with 76 member organisations - including regional youth councils. Its objectives include contributing to the development of youth policy, encouraging youth participation, acting as an intermediary between youth and government, and raising awareness on youth issues. The CJE is a member of the European Youth Forum. In 2013, the Spanish government announced plans to abolish the CJE, resulting in objections from the President of the European Parliament.

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?
EUR 27.9 Million
USD 38.2 Million
In the General State Budget (2014), the Youth Institute was allocated a budget of EUR 27.9 Million (USD 38.2 Million). According to the World Bank, Spain spent 10.73% of its government expenditure and 4.98% 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 May 2014).

Additional Background

From Youth Unemployment in Spain – Situation and Policy Recommendations (2012),

The Great Recession has had a significant social impact in Spain, where the effects on the labour market caused by the change in the economic cycle have been more profound than in many other European countries.

Almost three million jobs have been lost between 2008 and 2012, which represents a year-on-year decline of 15 per cent. As a result, the level of employment has fallen by 10 per cent, to a rate of 58 per cent, while unemployment has risen dramatically to 5.6 million and a rate of 24.6 per cent, the highest in the European Union (EU).

A question of particular relevance is the fact that the significant decline in employment has not affected all age groups in the same way, with young people being particularly hard hit. This has also been the case in the rest of Europe, although not to such a pronounced degree, thereby confirming the general principle of “the last person hired is the first to be laid off”. The result is a number of 922,000 young unemployed (below 25 years of age) in 2012 and a youth unemployment rate of 52 per cent, the second highest in the EU, after Greece. is clear that, as the results of different studies confirm, the successive labour reforms introduced in Spain over the past three decades − which, with a few exceptions, have been clearly oriented towards “greater flexibility” – have not had a significant impact on the net creation of jobs, contributing instead to increasing the level of precarious work.

For two reasons, in the current crisis the most vulnerable group is that formed by young people with the lowest level of education or training: first, because it is this group which has been most seriously affected by unemployment, while also suffering from a lower level of social protection (which is associated with their higher level of job instability). Second, because they are clearly going to be in a disadvantageous position in terms of accessing new jobs when the economic recovery becomes more consolidated (especially since the strategic changes in productive models is associated with an increasing demand for people with high and intermediate levels of qualifications).

  From National Report: First cooperation cycle of the EU Youth Strategy 2010-2012 (2012):

Political power in Spain is organised as a central government with devolved power for 17 autonomous communities (Comunidades Autónomas). There are also 2 autonomous cities. These regional governments are responsible for the administration of many public competencies, such as justice, health, education, social services, culture, urban and rural development and also youth policies. The Spanish Institute for Youth is the National Government agency responsible for youth issues. It has a coordination and communication role within the system, Each Region establishes its own youth policy, carried out by its youth institute or similar institution, following the region (sic) political priorities. And in many cases, local powers also have their own youth departments, especially in important cities, that develop their own youth policies as well.

...the economic and financial crisis that is taking place in out country since the beginning of the implementation of the EU Youth Strategy has changed the priorities of public policies and forced to focus (sic) on more immediate goals. Initiatives in youth policies planned or already in action have been suspended by many youth institutions at different levels.

  From the Strategy for Youth Entrepreneurship and Employment (2013):

The high level of youth unemployment in Spain is a structural problem with serious consequences for the present and future situation of Spanish youth and limits the potential growth of the Spanish economy in the long run.

18.5% of young people neither studying nor work or receive training though only 3.5% want to be in this situation.