Definition of Youth

The national youth policy (2013) in Turkey is geared to young people aged 14 to 29. They are recognized as a heterogeneous group with different needs. A quarter of the Turkish population is aged 15-29 according to a 2011 census.


Marriageable Age

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

  • No specific legislation for same-sex marriage. Homosexual acts legal. Source: UNSD, ILGA

Candidacy Age

Criminal Responsibility

Minimum Age
Source:  Penal Code of Turkey

Majority Age


Source: Child Protection Law (2005)

Voting Age


Compulsory voting.
Source:  Inter-Parliamentary Union

Situation of Young People

Literacy Rates

Both sexes (15-24) %
  • 99.68% Male (15-24) %
  • 98.81% Female (15-24) %

Net Enrolment Rate

Secondary School
Both sexes %
  • 83.78%Male %
  • 80.39% 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) %
  • 14.40% Male (13-15) %
  • 7.40% Female (13-15) %
  • Year: 2010
  • Source: WHO

Policy & Legislation

Is there a national youth policy?
Turkey’s national youth policy is from 2013. A 2008 research, 2009 study and 2010 briefing exist.

The national youth policy of 2013 encompasses 13 themes, ranging from education, employment and entrepreneurship, to participation, civic consciousness, and culture. Each theme includes a set of targets and defines the group of stakeholders that should be involved in its implementation. However, the policy document neither names concrete measures to be taken, nor defines the financial resources needed or allocated. Article 58 of the Turkish constitution is devoted explicitly to youth. The state should ensure both training and development of youth, and protect them from addiction and other vices. A specific youth law does not exist. According to the Human Development Report (2008), youth rights and services for youth are covered in various laws, however often have contradictory definitions of youth.

Public Institutions

Is there a governmental authority
(ministry, department or office) that is primarily responsible for youth?
The Ministry of Youth and Sports of Turkey was founded in 2011 and is the central government authority for youth. The ministry plans, implements and monitors all youth services except for formal education. It organizes a wide range of youth activities, such as youth centres and camps, as well as an annual youth week. As part of its strategic plan (2013), the ministry also carries out studies on young people and seeks to develop mechanisms for the participation of youth in all areas of social life.

Youth and Representation

Does the country have a national youth organisation / association (council, platform, body)?
Despite earlier commitments of the previous governmental authority for Youth and Sports to promote youth councils and the participation in decision-making, Turkey does not yet have a national youth council. The national youth policy(2013) recognises this as a major shortcoming of the Turkish youth sector and supports “the participation of non-governmental organizations in the field of youth in policy-making processes.” An article by the European Youth Forum (2014), reports two initiatives – one by the ministry, one by civil society – to establish a youth a 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?
TRY 10.6 million
USD 5 million
According to the 2012 activity report of the Ministry of Youth and Sports, 13% of the Ministry’s TRY 80.8 million (USD 38.1 million) expenditure, or TRY 10.6 million (USD 5 million), was spend on to youth services for 18.9 million young people. The strategic plan (2013-2017) foresees an expenditure of TRY 786.6 million (USD 371.4 million) for these four years. According to the World Bank, Turkey spent 8.55% of its government expenditure and 2.86% of its GDP on education provision in 2006.
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 Cynicism to Protest: Reflections on Youth and Politics in Turkey" (2013), an article on the protests in the summer of 2013:

In the days of uprising, protestors got to know each other, saw their commonalities, learned the value of respecting differences, witnessed forms of support and solidarity that they longed for in their everyday lives, and finally realized their collective power to resist the government's violation of rights and freedoms. What Turkey went through in June 2013 was not a revolution in the classical sense of knocking down the government, but it was definitely a revolution of consciousness. People saw that an alternative was possible. Young people, who had been dismissed for decades as ignorant and apolitical, were in the forefront. One can only hope that young people’s move away from cynicism and the awakening to a collective sense of power and action will lead to a fundamental transformation of Turkish politics and an opportunity for a more democratically and justly governed society.

From The National Youth and Sports Policy Document (2013):

50,5 % of the population in Turkey is under the age of 30. By the end of 2011, young people between the ages of 14 and 29 years constituted approximately 20 million of our population. In the event that population increase continues in its current state, 70% of the population in Turkey will be at working age in 2023. Turkey is the country, which has the highest proportion of young people to the total population in Europe. Transforming this demographical structure into an advantage can only be possible with effective and qualified youth oriented policies.

Youth is a concept that should be discussed in a sociological meaning rather than just biological. The definition of youth is made according to the era, socio-economic developments, culture and traditions of societies. Therefore, it is not possible to mention a single universally accepted age range for subjective youth definitions. When the conditions of our country are taken into account, individuals between the ages of 14 and 29 are accepted as the target group of youth policies.

The vision of youth policies is to provide opportunities and to establish a ground where young people can truly realize their own potentials as individuals who have international and humanitarian values, respect for the environment, a sense of social belonging, who participate actively in social life, make use fundamental rights and liberties efficiently and who are committed to national and moral values, are informed, self-confident, active and enterprising and at a level to be able to compete with their peers in the international arena.

From the Country Sheet on Youth Policy in Turkey (2010):

When the Turkish legislation related to youth is analysed, it appears that young people are considered as a human resource that needs to be trained in a way ensuring the integrity of the state and as a group in society that needs to be protected against bad habits.

From the Studies on Youth Policies in the Mediterranean Partner Countries: Turkey (2009):

Out of the 550 deputies in the Turkish Parliament, there are only 19 people aged 30-35 after the 2007 elections [...]. The most common pattern of political participation among young people is voting and 80% the percentage of young people who vote is estimated around. However, young people do not seem interested in politics and their political participation is low. A survey concluded that only 3.7% of the young people are members of political parties; only 10% talk about politics with their friends; and only 3% are members of any political, social or cultural associations. About 59% of young people do not participate in any club or organisation.