Definition of Youth

The Youth Law (2004) of Sweden defines youth as between 13-25 years. The draft Youth Bill (2014) maintains that definition.


Marriageable Age

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

  • No data for marriage with parental consent. Same-sex marriage is legal. Source: UNSD, ILGA

Candidacy Age

Criminal Responsibility

Minimum Age
Special provisions are laid out in the Young Offenders Act (1964) for crimes committed by those under 21 years. Source:  Penal Code

Majority Age


Source: Youth Law (2004)

Voting Age


Situation of Young People

Literacy Rates

Both sexes (15-24) %
  • -- Male (15-24) %
  • -- Female (15-24) %
  • Year: No data.
  • Source: UNESCO

Net Enrolment Rate

Secondary School
Both sexes %
  • 92.88%Male %
  • 92.63% 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?
Sweden has a 2004 youth law. A fact sheetsummary and 2012 briefing explain the approach.

The Swedish Government’s Youth Policy Fact Sheet (2009) notes that whilst no single youth policy document exists, “a youth perspective is mainstreamed in relevant policy areas”.   Targeted areas include education, employment, culture & leisure, participation,health & security. Policy is supported by evidence with an annual review and analysis of “80 indicators of development”.   The Youth Law (2004) reinforces the systems of coordination between policy areas to ensure the objectives of the national youth policy is achieved.   A Youth Bill (2014) has been introduced that provides a new youth policy framework and action plan for 2014-2017. It is foreseen to enter into force on January 1, 2015. In a written response (2013) the National Council of Swedish Youth Organisations (LSU) welcomed the bill, but called for greater ambition and resources.

Public Institutions

Is there a governmental authority
(ministry, department or office) that is primarily responsible for youth?
The Ministry of Education and Research has responsibility for coordinating youth policy, youth organisations and cooperation on youth issues.   The Swedish Agency for Youth and Civil Society is the government agency that ‘works to ensure that young people have access to influence and welfare’. The Agency produces reports, which inform the development of youth policy. These include an annual compilation of 80 indicators of youth development; an annual analysis of a priority topic; and a study of youth attitudes and values conducted every four years.

Youth and Representation

Does the country have a national youth organisation / association (council, platform, body)?
The National Council of Swedish Youth Organisations (LSU) is an umbrella organisation of 81 national youth organisations in Sweden that aims “to collectively improve the conditions for youths’ organisations”.   Through their national and international programmes, LSU aims to “ensure that young people are involved in decision-making, in Sweden and the world.” LSU is a full member of the European Youth Forum.   LSU’s main funders include the Swedish Inheritance Fund and Sida. They also receive a grant from the government and members pay an annual fee.

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?
SEK 293 Million
USD 45.6 million
According to the Government of Sweden, a proposed SEK 293 million (USD 45.6 million) has been “allocated to youth policy” in 2014. The proposed Youth Policy Bill includes an action plan, for which SEK 10 million (USD 1.5 million) per year is expected to be allocated. According to the World Bank, Sweden spent 13.37% of its government expenditure and 6.98% 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 August 2013).

Additional Background

According to Reuters (2013):  
Hundreds of youth have torched cars and attacked police in four nights of riots in immigrant suburbs of Sweden's capital, shocking a country that dodged the worst of the financial crisis but failed to solve youth unemployment and resentment among asylum seekers…
"We see a society that is becoming increasingly divided and where the gaps, both socially and economically, are becoming larger," said Rami Al-khamisi, co-founder of Megafonen, a group that works for social change in the suburbs.
"And the people out here are being hit the hardest ... We have institutional racism."…
"The reason is very simple. Unemployment, the housing situation, disrespect from police," said Rouzbeh Djalaie, editor of the local Norra Sidan newspaper, which covers Husby. "It just takes something to start a riot, and that was the shooting."…
After decades of practicing the "Swedish model" of generous welfare benefits, Stockholm has been reducing the role of the state since the 1990s, spurring the fastest growth in inequality of any advanced OECD economy.
While average living standards are still among the highest in Europe, successive governments have failed to substantially reduce long-term youth unemployment and poverty, which have affected immigrant communities worst.
Some 15 percent of the population are foreign-born, and unemployment among these stands at 16 percent, compared with 6 percent for native Swedes, according to OECD data.
Youth unemployment in Husby, at 6 percent, is twice the overall average across the capital…
While many of the immigrant population are from Nordic neighbors closely tied to Sweden by language or culture, the debate has tended to focus on poor asylum seekers from distant war zones.
Out of a total 103,000 immigrants last year, 43,900 were asylum seekers, almost 50 percent up from 2011. Nearly half of these were refugees from fighting in SyriaAfghanistan or Somalia, and will get at least temporary residency.
Among 44 industrialized countries, Sweden ranks fourth in the absolute number of asylum seekers, and second relative to its population, according to U.N. figures.
  The Country Sheet on Youth Policy in Sweden (2008) gives some analysis of the approach to youth policy:  
The youth policy approach is still cross-sectoral. This means that within each area of politics that touches upon youth related topics, visible efforts should be made to integrate the youth policy perspective within the already existing goals of that specific political area. To fulfil these two main goals, analysis, coordination and presentation should be made within the following five areas:
  • Education and training
  • Work and self-support
  • Health and vulnerability
  • Influence and representation
  • Culture and leisure-time
Different aspects of the living conditions of young people are not easy to formulate as measurable goals and hence should not be formulated as goals. However, young people’s living conditions should be important starting points for how public services are planned and used as points of reference when these services are being evaluated. The Government sees four perspectives that should characterize both the policy and public services for young people. These are the resource perspective, the rights perspective, the independence perspective and the diversity perspective.
Government agencies in charge of different policy areas have to follow up youth related issues as an integrated part of their ordinary follow up of their field of work. A number of youth policy relevant indicators have however been identified in different policy areas such as work, education, housing, health, etc. These are to be reported each year to the responsible ministry and to the Swedish National Board for Youth Affairs.