1.1 Target population of youth policy
In youth policy publications, their authors emphasise the necessity for introducing a definition of youth as a social group a notion that initially included people aged 15-25 (Raczek, 2014). However, as a result of the implementation of new youth programmes, the upper age limit has now been raised from 25 to 29. This change resulted from “the willingness to offer high quality support to a larger group of young people entering the labour market, and from the standardisation of target groups and the scope of support obtained from the European Social Fund as well as from the Youth Employment Initiative.
Social policy programmes consider youth as people aged from 13 to 30. The lower age limit coincides with the time when children become “active participants shaping their environment by their own actions” and finish a certain stage of education when “they make important choices regarding their further education”. The upper age limit is defined as the stage of becoming self-sufficient and setting up a household. However, under the Ombudsman for Children Act (Ustawa o Rzeczniku Praw Dziecka), “any human being is a child from conception to the age of majority, but “reaching the age of majority is regulated by separate provisions”. In accordance with the above Act, the notion of “youth” could refer to people who have reached the age of majority and therefore, have turned 18 or 16. It is also accepted that “young people” are those under 34 years old as it is difficult to pinpoint the age of passing from youth to maturity. The report “Youth 2011” describing young people’s situation in Poland applied the term “youth” to the age group of 15-29 (Szafraniec, 2011). It is this age range that is most frequently indicated when defining the notion of “youth”.
Youth policy researcher from the University of Warsaw, prof. Barbara Fatyga defines “youth” as “a diverse category of population aged 11 to 25”, within which there are various subcategories - age (teenagers (11-19 years) and young adults (20-25 years)), gender, health, family situation, territory (place of residence), educational situation, socio-economic status, employment, legal criterion.
The Central Statistical Office (Główny Urząd Statystyczny) provides no data for such an expanded age range (15-29). Instead, it indicates the following age ranges: 15-19, 20-24 and 25-29. According to data provided by the Central Statistical Office, as of 30th June 2021, Poland had 6 091 786 inhabitants aged 15-29, out of whom 3 111 389 were males and 2 980 397 - females. Young people account 15,96% of Poland’s whole population. The number of youth in Poland in the age ranges is as follows: 15-19 years old – 1 802 588, 20-24 years old – 1 940 927, 25-29 years old – 2 348 271.