Definition of Youth

While the National Youth Policy (2011) does not explicitly define an age range for youth, it recognises that the National Institute for Youth (INJU) uses the range 14-29 years, while the Ibero-American Convention on the Rights of Youth (2005) uses 15-24 years.


Marriageable Age

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

  • A bill legalising same-sex marriage was passed in April 2013. The same bill also increased the minimum age for marriage to 16 for both sexes. Source: UNSD, Human Rights Watch (2013)

Candidacy Age

Criminal Responsibility

Minimum Age
A referendum to lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 18 to 16 will take place in October 2014. Source:  Committee on the Rights of the Child, Uruguay et al.

Majority Age



Voting Age


Compulsory voting.
Source:  Inter-Parliamentary Union

Situation of Young People

Literacy Rates

Both sexes (15-24) %
  • 98.67% Male (15-24) %
  • 99.36% Female (15-24) %

Net Enrolment Rate

Secondary School
Both sexes %
  • 68.05%Male %
  • 76.13% 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) %
  • 21.40% Male (13-15) %
  • 24.50% Female (13-15) %
  • Year: 2010
  • Source: WHO

Policy & Legislation

Is there a national youth policy?
The youth policy of Uruguay is from 2011. A 2012 briefing focuses on youth unemployment.

Uruguay’s national youth policy (PNJ) covers the years 2011-2015 and sets objectives, actions and goals in four areas:

  • Education;
  • Emancipation (relating to access to decent work and housing);
  • Comprehensive health and quality of life;
  • Participation, citizenship and culture.
The policy sets specific goals with measurable targets for 2015, such as: 23,000 scholarships awarded; a new Youth Employment Act passed by parliament; 40,000 new jobs created for youth; a study on the youth mental health designed and developed.

The policy is developed in five-year cycles, while local authorities develop yearly operational plans. Youth indicators are to be developed by the Social Monitoring and Indicators Programme within the Ministry of Social Development (MIDES) to aid with monitoring and evaluation.

Public Institutions

Is there a governmental authority
(ministry, department or office) that is primarily responsible for youth?
The National Youth Institute (INJU) within the Ministry of Social Development (MIDES) is responsible for planning, designing, advising, coordinating, supervising and implementing youth policies, as well as ensuring compliance. It coordinates its activities with other governmental ministries, guided by youth participation in policy-making as an underlying principle. Its programmes fall under three themes: Participation, citizenship and culture; Education and educational integration; Training and work. INJU represents Uruguay at the Ibero-Americana Youth Organisation.

Youth and Representation

Does the country have a national youth organisation / association (council, platform, body)?
The national youth policy (2011) lists the creation of a federal youth council (CFJ) as a goal under the theme “Platform for the Promotion of Youth Participation”, with the general objective of encouraging participation of young people in public policy-making. According to UNFPA, in 2010 the National Youth Institute (INJU) began the process that will lead to the eventual formation of the CFJ. However, at the time of publication of this fact sheet, there is no online presence for a federal youth council, and it is unclear if it has yet been created.

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?
Figures relating to the budget of the National Youth Institute (INJU), or youth programming in general, could not be found online. According to the World Bank, Uruguay spent 4.50% of its GDP on education in 2011, but does not calculate what this translates to in terms of percentage of government expenditure.
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 Comments on the Universal Periodical Review Process of the State of Uruguay Pre-Session Document (2013):
Despite the existence of a National Strategy to Support Childhood, it has not been implemented, resulting in children facing problems such as child poverty and a high dropout rate in the secondary level of education.
Child Poverty: Uruguay has advanced considerably in reducing poverty in the last few years. Unemployment has reached the historical level of 7% and investment in social and educational policies has been significant. Nonetheless, despite the remarkable economic development, children represent a significant share of the poor in Uruguay. Child poverty among children under 6 years old is around 27% in the country and 35% in the capital, Montevideo.
Access to Education: The secondary level of education in Uruguay has been facing several structural problems that lead to a number of students abandoning the school system. According to recent data 44% of the students that were in the secondary education system didn’t achieve the marks to pass, and in the sixth grade almost 60% was not approved. According to data from 2008, 3 out of 10 students that failed to pass did not register for the courses in the following year, leaving the educational system. In addition, a survey conducted by the Statistics Institute shows that 71,8% of the urban population completes primary school, while only 38,5% completes secondary school and is able to go to the university.
From The Challenge of Youth Employment in Present-Day Uruguay (2010-2014) (2012):
In the past few years, the Uruguayan economy has been growing at rates above the historical average (6 per cent in 2011), while achieving the lowest unemployment rate in its history (5.7 per cent in January 2012). This combines with an increase in real salaries (5.8 per cent of annual growth as of February 2012) and a reduction in poverty (13.7 per cent in 2011) and extreme poverty (0.5 per cent in 2011). This growth has been fuelled4 by an increase in both internal and external demand, the latter as a result of growth by emerging economies (including Argentina and Brazil) and the rising price of commodities, and the former thanks to rising household incomes and foreign direct investment [...]. The most notable risks are related to the fact that Uruguay is still a small and vulnerable economy that needs to catch up in terms of international integration.
Current issues facing Uruguay include its significant commercial dependence on the region, although this has lessened over the past decade; the preponderance of raw material and food exports, which has been growing; the increase in foreign direct investment over the past few years, and sagging competitiveness due to the value of the national currency and prices [...]
Young people are mainly employed privately as salaried workers, with a significant presence in the commercial sector, particularly among the 18-to-24 age group. Manufacturing is also relevant, as are the sectors of agriculture, forestry and fishing, with employment of youth in the latter being on par with adult age groups.
It is furthermore particularly worrying that one out of every two young people (aged 18 to 24) in employment work over 40 hours per week. [...] This makes it difficult to combine work, studies and training. The different levels of education attained by young people are one of the most heterogeneous aspects between generations, and this is a crucial factor affecting present and future standards of living. In Uruguay, 24.5 per cent of adolescents between the ages of 15 and 17 do not go to school, with this figure ris- ing to 53.2 per cent among young people between 18 and 24 [...]. This situation has historically characterised the country; indeed, younger persons have a higher average number of years in formal education than older ones. Uruguay lags behind other MERCOSUR countries in this regard, and its secondary school completion rates have not increased significantly in the past 15 years.