Definition of Youth

Switzerland has several definitions of youth. The Youth Law (2011) defines childhood and youth as kindergarten age to 30 years. The Youth Policy Strategy (2008) identifies youth promotion measures in cantons as being aimed at youth aged 16-25 years.


Marriageable Age

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

  • Civil unions/partnerships legal. Source: UNSD, ILGA

Candidacy Age

  • Upper House
  • --

  • Source:  Inter-Parliamentary Union
    Cantonal law governs minimum candidacy age for the upper house. The upper house is directly elected.

Criminal Responsibility

Minimum Age
Source:  Federal Law Governing the Criminal Status of Minors

Majority Age


Source: Civil Code (1907)

Voting Age


The canton of Schaffhausen requires compulsory voting at the federal, cantonal and municipal elections.
Source:  Inter-Parliamentary Union

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 %
  • 82.19%Male %
  • 79.80% 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?
Switzerland has a 2011 youth law and a 2008 youth policy strategy. A 2012 briefing exists.

The purpose of the Child and Youth Promotion Act (2011) is to promote work with young people and help to ensure that they are encouraged in their physical and mental wellbeing and are able to develop into responsible adults who are integrated into the community.

The law is described by the “Child and youth policy in Switzerland“ (2013) fact sheet as being a “policy of protection, promotion and participation”.

According to the Youth Policy Strategy (2008), eight cantons have independent youth laws and a further nine cantons have youth-specific provisions in other acts.

The Strategy includes information on the development and challenges of youth policy, a situational analysis and measures for evaluation.

Public Institutions

Is there a governmental authority
(ministry, department or office) that is primarily responsible for youth?
The Family, Generations and Society Domain of the Federal Social Insurance Office is responsible for youth affairs. Its main activities include coordination of the “Youth and Violence” prevention programme, provision of financial support to organisations working with young people, and as an organising partner of the annual Federal Youth Session.

The Youth Policy Strategy (2008) highlights that while the federal government has a role to play in youth policy, primary responsibility for implementation lies with the cantons and municipalities.

Youth and Representation

Does the country have a national youth organisation / association (council, platform, body)?
The Swiss National Youth Council (SNYC) is an umbrella organisation of 65 youth organisations. Their mission is “to generate possibilities for young people to participate in society as a whole and to develop into socially conscious, active citizens.”

The SNYC coordinates a series of projects including a training programme on physical and mental health, a project supporting migrant minors, and the “Youth Rep” scheme, which sends three young representatives to the UN. The SNYC also engages in political advocacy work on policy positions determined by members.

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?
CHF 13.2 million
USD 15.0 million
According to Budget Figures for Administrative Units 2014, CHF 2.2 million (USD 2.5 million) is allocated for Measures for the Protection of Youth, CHF 10.3 million (USD 11.8 million) for Encouragement for Children and Youth, and CHF 700,000 (USD 798,653) for Incentive Financing for Cantons for Children and Youth. Extensive devolution in Switzerland gives cantons control of tax revenues, and as such expenditure on youth in addition to federal funding varies by canton. According to the World Bank, Switzerland spent 15.94% of its government expenditure and 5.22% 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 Child and Youth Policy in Switzerland (2008):  
By international standards, the general conditions are very favourable for young people growing up in Switzerland. Current research confirms a positive image of young people. The study on “Values and Life Opportunities in Transition” in the Swiss Youth Survey series comes to the conclusion that young Swiss men and women continue to be an age group with persistently positive and realistic orientations. The majority of young people shows a high level of satisfaction and strives for realistically defined goals in life. Their value orientations are relatively constant and stable, and they have changed very little compared to the past. A second study, the COCON Swiss Children and Youth Survey studied the development of social competence in the adolescent period and found that social competences such as compassion, acceptance of responsibility and willingness to achieve are very well developed among young people in Switzerland; in this context, significant factors are a trusting relationship between parents and child as well as extracurricular spaces of learning and experiences.