Definition of Youth

According to the Youth Development Act (2007) and the Youth Development Plan (2012) youth is defined as 18-25 years.


Marriageable Age

  • Opposite Sex
  • Same Sex
  • Without parental consent
  • with parental consent
  • Male
  • 20
  • 17
  • --
  • Female
  • 20
  • 17
  • --

  • Opposite sex marriage requires parental consent for minors between 17-20 years. No specific legislation for same-sex marriage, however homosexual acts are legal. Source: UNSD, ILGA

Candidacy Age

Criminal Responsibility

Minimum Age
Source:  Penal Code of Thailand

Majority Age


Source: Civil and Commercial Code (2008)

Voting Age


Compulsory voting.
Source:  Inter-Parliamentary Union

Situation of Young People

Literacy Rates

Both sexes (15-24) %
  • 98.30% Male (15-24) %
  • 98.17% Female (15-24) %

Net Enrolment Rate

Secondary School
Both sexes %
  • 77.29%Male %
  • 81.72% 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) %
  • 24.00% Male (13-15) %
  • 7.50% Female (13-15) %
  • Year: 2010
  • Source: WHO

Policy & Legislation

Is there a national youth policy?
Thailand has a youth development act and a youth development plan covering 2012-2016.

The Youth Development Act (2007) enshrines the right of young people to basic education, health care, play and participation in cultural and social life. The act mandates the work of a national commission on youth, as well as measures to promote implementation, including child and youth councils as well as the promotion of youth NGOs.

The Youth Development Plan for 2012-2016 was developed in accordance with the Act. Its vision is that young people “lead secured, healthy, happy and creative lives”. The plan includes 17 indicators, such as a requirement that 80% of youth councils function in a standardised way. It also lists four strategies (ex. increase life immunity of children and youth), associated objectives, measures, and the ministries responsible for attaining them.

Public Institutions

Is there a governmental authority
(ministry, department or office) that is primarily responsible for youth?
The Office of Promotion and Protection of Children, Youth, the Elderly and Vulnerable Groups (OPP) is the governmental body responsible for youth. It is the author of the 2007 Youth Development Act and the 2012 Youth Development Plan. Within the office is the Bureau of Youth Promotion and Protection, which is responsible for promoting measures that protect and maintain the rights of youth.

The 2007 Act also mandates the creation of a national commission. Members include the Prime Minister and young representatives elected by the Child and Youth Council of Thailand.

Youth and Representation

Does the country have a national youth organisation / association (council, platform, body)?
There are two prominent representation structures in Thailand. The first is a National Children and Youth Council. It was set up by the OPP in 2009, according to a 2011 UNICEF report. A 2010 summary notes the existence of 954 councils mostly at district and provincial levels.

The second is the National Council for Child and Youth Development (NCYD), which coordinates youth groups, schools and ministries, according to its 2008 profile. It is unclear what role young people play in the organisation, and its relation to the National Children and Youth Council.

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 Ministry of Finance has an English website that includes budgetary information, however no specific figures on youth spending in Thailand could be ascertained. According to the World Bank, Thailand spent 23.98% of its government expenditure and 5.79% of its GDP on education provision in 2011.
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 Situation Analysis of Children and Women in Thailand 2011 (2011):  
In Thailand, policies on children and young people and the supporting institutional frameworks have developed in line with the national political context. After the most recent change in the institutional structure under the Bureaucratic Reform Act 2002, responsibility for formulating and coordinating youth policy now lies within the Office of Welfare Promotion, Protection and Empowerment of Vulnerable Groups (OPP) within the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security (MSDHS). However, in relation to the size of its mandate, the overall human and financial resources of the MSDHS are limited. The OPP has experienced a number of challenges in trying to coordinate the efforts of the different ministries and agencies involved in specific child and youth issues. [...]
In 2008, the OPP began setting up the Children and Youth Councils at the district and provincial levels. The National Children and Youth Council was formed in June 2009 and includes representatives from the provincial councils and 38 representatives from youth groups. Members of the district and provincial councils already have been active in various forums to give their views and recommendations on issues of concern to young people. Interestingly at the district level, girls participate slightly more than boys in the councils, but at the provincial level, the boys are more represented than girls: at a male-to-female ratio of around 60:40. At the national level, there are only 4 females to 22 males. Involvement of female youth leaders, particularly at the national level, needs to be encouraged and closely monitored. [...]
[O]ver the past 30 years Thailand has made remarkable progress in many indicators of social development and towards realizing children’s and women’s rights. Underpinning this achievement has been sustained economic growth and an associated decline in levels of household income poverty. Thailand recorded average economic growth of 9.2 per cent per annum from the mid-1980s to the mid- 1990s, before becoming engulfed in the economic crisis that began in 1997. A study in 2006 by the Thailand Development Research Institute found that economic growth from 1992 until the 1997 crisis had a greater impact on poverty reduction than growth during 1986–1992. The proportion of poor people halved, from 28.4 per cent in 1992 to 14.7 per cent in 1996. The 1997 crisis resulted in an economic slowdown and an increase in unemployment, with the average growth slowing to 0.7 per cent during 1997–2000. By 2002, the economy had started to recover, with growth reaching 5.3 per cent while the proportion of people living in poverty declined to 14.9 per cent; by 2009 it had fallen to 7.7 per cent.
Social sector spending has taken the largest share of the national budget in recent years, with expenditure on education accounting for the largest proportion [...] Although the education budget, as a proportion of government spending, decreased from 25.6 per cent in 2000 to 22 per cent in 2008,13 there was an increase in funding in absolute terms. Health spending was at a much lower constant proportion from 2000 to 2006. This share only started to increase in 2007, despite rising costs, as a result of the Universal Health Coverage Scheme (UHCS), which began in 2002. Demand for health services is continuing to rise as use of the UHSC grows and as a result of the ageing population. Some analysts believe that this growth in demand for services provided through the UHSC will place increasing strain on an already-limited health sector budget.
  From The National Child and Youth Development Plan D.E. 2555-2559 (2012-2016) (2012):  Demographic structure  
According to demographic data of the Department of Provincial Administration, the Ministry of Interior as of December 2009, the total population of Thailand was 63.5 million. Of this number, 22.95 million were children and youth (aged under 25 years old) or 36.85 per cent of total population (2.3 million were children 0 - 2 years; 2.4 million were children 3 - 5 years; 5.91 million were children 6 - 12 years; 4.85 million were children 13 - 17 years; and 7.46 million were youth aged 18 - 25 years). In addition, there were 200,000 children aged below 15 who were born in Thailand to immigrant parents and registered with the Ministry of Labour. It is projected that child and youth population in Thailand is likely to drop continuously judging from a survey of demographic change over the past five years (2001 - 2005). The survey showed that during that period there were 0.75 - 0.81 million newborns per year. This was due largely to the tendency of women in reproductive age getting married later than before and effective birth control methods. Working age population remains stable, while senior population has been continuously on the rise, projecting to reach 14.7 per cent of total population by 2016 (Population prospects, 2000 - 2033). This situation presents a good rationale to focus on child and youth quality development, on building skills and knowledge of the next generation preparing for effective replacement of declining number of current workforce. [...]
  Socio - cultural change  
Adoption of western values has resulted in a number of changes, notably:
1) Imitation of western way of life focusing on freedom of expression and individualistic values. Happiness is defined by individual needs. Children and youth with emotional immaturity are easily influenced, having impact on their attitudes on family and society in general.
2) Instant information and fast pace connection via a virtual world contribute to increased knowledge and connectivity. Virtual network has become an increasingly important part of people’s lives. This has, in turn, reduced face - to - face and personal interaction. Children and youth are able to obtain information and learn through modern communication technology whenever or wherever they are. Those without enough discretion and maturity in using the technology may fall into a risk group. Some parents may not understand the benefits of new channel of learning via virtual and only see the on-line world in a negative light. This may contribute to widening generation gap and discrepancy in accessing technology.
3) The hectic pace of today’s reality is prompting many Thais to look back to the old and peaceful way of life. This presents a good opportunity to encourage children and youth to learn to appreciate the concept of self - sufficiency. The Reform Thailand Plan of 2011 promotes new generation of farmers, focusing on vocational skills training together with access to land and capital. It also promotes vocational training in workplaces and small enterprises, as well as community as learning space.
4) Movement of labour across regional and national borders has exposed children and youth to multiculturalism. It is important that they understand how to live harmoniously in a multicultural society.
5) Sub - regional Cooperation, particularly when the region becomes ASEAN Community in 2015: These would cause an impact on human resource development, due to the free movement of labour and services. In 2015, seven professional fields will be liberalized, including engineering, nursing, architecture, medicine, dentistry, accountancy and surveying. To prepare children and youth to compete successfully in the new job market, it is important to focus on specialized knowledge and skills, ability to apply new technology, foreign language proficiency, and multicultural awareness.