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EACEA National Policies Platform


1. Youth Policy Governance

1.4 Youth policy decision-making

Last update: 28 November 2023
On this page
  1. Structure of Decision-making
  2. Main Themes
  3. The National Agency for Youth
  4. Policy Monitoring and Evaluation


Structure of Decision-making

Youth policy takes place at all levels of government, i.e. state, regional, and municipal.


State level

There is no minister of youth in Denmark. Instead, the decision-making process regarding youth policy resembles the general decision-making process in Denmark:

Denmark is a representative democracy. The constitution of 1849 (Danmarks Riges Grundlov, Lov nr. 169 af 05/06/1953) establised a tripartition of power:

  • The Government constitutes the executive power
  • Parliament and Government constitute the legislative power
  • The courts of justice constitute the judicial power

The government constitutes the executive power and is responsible for the implementation of laws in Denmark. The government defines the overall objectives of all the policies in Denmark – including youth policies.

The Danish parliament (Folketinget) constitutes the legislative power, which means that the parliament must pass all laws. Parliament and the government may both introduce proposals for new legislation.

The courts exercise judicial power in Denmark and have exclusive competence to decide whether Danish citizens or foreigners residing in Denmark have broken the laws of the country. Neither the Danish parliament nor the government have the authority to judge a citizen.

See section 5.1 for a detailed description of Danish institutions of representative democracy.

In Denmark, preparing legislation regarding young people is the responsibility of the different sector ministries (only ministries with relevance for the formulation, evaluation, and monitoring of Danish youth policy are mentioned):


Ministry of Culture



The Ministry of Social Affairs, Housing and Senior Citizens

  • Socially marginalised children/children with fewer opportunities
  • Children with special needs
  • People with disabilities
  • Civil society and the voluntary sector
  • Family Law



The Ministry of the Interior and Health

  • Structural policy
  • Governance of municipalities and regions
  • Economics of municipalities and regions
  • Elections and referenda
  • The healthcare system, including prevention of illness and the quality of the healthcare system



The Ministry of Children and Education

  • Primary and lower secondary education (folkeskole) (ISCED 1 and 2).
  • General and vocational upper secondary education (ISCED 3 and IVET).
  • The Danish Minister for Children and Education is the acting minister for the youth field with regard to the Council of Youth Ministers of the European Union.



The Ministry of Digital Government and Gender Equalities

  • equal rights and gender equality
  • digitalisation



The Ministry of Employment

  • Working conditions
  • Working environment and workplace injuries
  • Employment



The Ministry of Higher Education and Science

  • Higher education
  • Science
  • Innovation
  • State education grants



The Ministry of Justice

  • The justice system in Denmark



The Ministry of Immigration and Integration

  • Immigration: entry, residence, and asylum
  • Integration: integration of refugees and immigrants in society (e.g. the labour market and education system, Danish lessons, tests for non-Danish citizens)
  • Prevention of extremism and radicalisation
  • Honour-related conflicts and negative social control
  • Citizenship



Danish Ministry of Climate, Energy and Utilities

  • Responsible for national and international efforts to prevent climate change


Regional level

Denmark is divided into five regions:


  • The North Denmark Region
  • Central Denmark Region
  • The Region of Southern Denmark
  • Region Zealand
  • The Capital Region of Denmark

The regions administer a number of tasks in accordance with the national legislation. The regions are responsible for:


  • Healthcare in Denmark in relation to somatic and psychiatric treatment
  • Regional growth and development
  • Public transportation
  • Special education and needs
  • Coordination of youth educations (in relation to location, capacity, etc.)

Every year, the government and Danish Regions enter into an economic agreement on the regional spending and the regional tasks.


Municipal level

The 98 Danish municipalities have a considerable degree of autonomy known as municipal self-government (kommunalt selvstyre). The right of municipalities to self-govern under state supervision is established in The Constitutional Act of Denmark § 82. Thus, the welfare services may vary locally depending on the priorities made by the local government.

The municipal economy is established in annual economic agreements between the government and Local Government Denmark (KL). Typically, the agreement establishes the total level of expenditure on services and facilities as well as the level of municipal taxation.

Furthermore, Denmark has a system to balance the worst inequalities among municipal economies in order to ensure that citizens can expect more or less the same service level no matter if they live in a wealthy or a poor municipality.

The municipalities are responsible for the main part of welfare services that people meet in their everyday life. With the Consolidation act on Municipal Provision for Young People under 25  (Lov om kommunal indsats for unge under 25 år, LBK nr 1393 af 05/10/2022), municipalities have full responsibility for young people under 25 years.

Municipalities are responsible for coordinating guidance offers, educational offers, and employment offers for young people.The following municipalities tasks are youth related:

  • Day-care institutions
  • Primary and lower secondary education (folkeskole)
  • Part of the healthcare system (prevention, nursing and rehabilitation outside hospitalisation)
  • Culture and leisure activities
  • Voluntary social work (see section 2.1)
  • Active labour market measures in the local job centre (see section 3.6) and municipal youth guidance units (KUI)
  • Social benefits
  • Integration of people with immigrant background
  • Youth schools and youth clubs
  • A youth council or a joint pupil’s council or not (not mandatory)


The municipalities are required by law to develop a coherent children and youth policy (LBK nr 170 af 24/01/2023)). The policy must deal with:

  • Children and young people with special needs (physical or psychological disabilities or other types of needs)
  • Children and young people without special needs

The municipality is also obliged to develop a special measure in order to prevent and treat child abuse.

Generally, committees are responsible for the preparation and implementation of the council decisions and for the administration of local authority functions. They also make decisions on behalf of the council (Act on Municipal Governance (Bekendtgørelse af lov om kommunernes styrelse, LBK nr 47 af 15/01/2019)

A municipal Child and Youth Committee administers cases on the forcible removal of children. The committee is independent from the municipal council (LBK nr 265 af 25/02/2022) and LBK nr 170 af 24/01/2023).

Additionally, many municipalities have a Children and Family Committee with the task of managing day-care institutions, primary and lower secondary institutions, youth clubs and youth schools, etc.

The municipalities are under state supervision by the Social Appeals Board (Ankestyrelsen). The Social Appeals Board monitors whether the municipalities administer in accordance with the laws that apply to public authorities. For instance:




Main Themes

This section describes the main themes addressed by national youth policy, including what informs the choices of themes, and how the themes are identified at top-level.


Danish youth policy is governed through a cross-sectoral approach and deals with issues in areas such as education, employment, housing, health, participation, culture, and leisure. The list above of municipal tasks related to youth gives an impression of the extent of Danish youth policies.


The scope of Danish youth policy is that all children and young people should have the best start in life. Regardless of social background, children and young people must have the same possibilities to learn, develop, thrive and be educated.


The general focus is on young people’s well-being and early intervention. The main purpose is to diminish the group of NEETs (neither in employment nor in education and training) and to increase young people’s active citizenship.


Factors informing the choice of themes in the Danish youth policy


A wide range of factors inform the choice of themes in the Danish youth policy:


International conventions

Danish youth policy must comply with a series of international conventions:

  • UN Convention on the Rights of the Child
  • UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
  • EU Convention on Human Rights


Danish governments support the EU Youth Guarantee.

Some of the targets affect. Furthermore, the report ‘Denmark’s National Reform Programme’ describes the national policy responses to comply with the EU country-specific recommendations. Some of the policy respnses affect the Danish youth policy in the area of employment, education, and social inclusion. 


Research                                                                                                                                Danish universities are obliged to conduct research-based consultancy. See section 1.6.

Research conducted at the universities, national knowledge centres, national councils and research centres draws attention to effects, problems, international inspiration and possibilities for development that may be used as arguments in political discussions. See section 1.6.


National knowledge centres collect, produce and distribute knowledge, for instance (List not complete):


  • The Danish Centre for Teaching Environment (DCUM)
  • The Knowledge Centre for Non-Formal General Adult Education (VIFO)
  • The National Knowledge and Special Needs Advisor Organisaton (VISO)
  • The Centre for Voluntary Social Work (CFSA)
  • The Knowledge Centre for Social Measures Against Violence and Sexual Abuse of Children and Young People (Videnscenter for sociale indsatser ved vold og seksuelle overgreb mod børn - SISO)
  • The Danish National Center for Grief (Det nationale sorgcenter)

Please also see section 1.6.


National councils and committees

National councils and committees advise ministers, politicians and public authorities, as well as discuss policy proposals/ legislation and participate in current debates. The councils are obliged to formulate consultative statements in their sector area. Some councils are concerned with the area of youth policy, for instance (list not complete).:


The National Council for Children (Børnerådet). See section 5.3 and 4.5.


The National Council for Volunteering (Frivilligrådet). The council advises the Minister for Social Affairs, Housing and Senior Citizens as well as the Danish parliament (Folketinget) on volunteering in relation to social challenges. The purpose of the council is to contribute to the public debate on the voluntary sector’s role in the future development of the welfare society, including the sector’s cooperation with the public and private sectors.


The Danish Disability Council (Det centrale Handicapråd). The council advises politicians, authorities and organisations on how they can improve conditions for people with disabilities.


The National Council for Socially Marginalised (Rådet for Socialt Udsatte). The council must ensure that socially marginalised citizens are heard in policymaking processes and in the public. The council is in close dialogue with socially marginalised citizens and distributes knowledge about the area to the public.


Council for Children’s Learning (Rådet for børns læring). The council monitors and assesses the academic level, the pedagogic development and the pupils’ benefit from education. Furthermore, the council advises the minister of children and education. As of 2018, the focus areas of the council are quality education, the balance between public and private schools and digitalisation.


Youth Climate Council (Ungeklimarådet). The Youth Climate Council gives input on the solutions of climate challenges to the minister for climate, energy and utilities. See section 9.3 “global issues exchanges with policy-makers at the domestic level”.

The Media Council for Children and Young People (Medierådet for børn og unge) (see section 5.3)


The Danish Institute for Human Rights (Institut for Menneskerettigheder) (see section 9.2)


In the case of larger reforms, ministers set up expert groups, committees or commissions with knowledge on a specific area. In accordance with the mandate from the minister, the group/committee/commission conducts a set of analyses and recommendations for the minister to include in the formulation of policy proposals.



Interest organisations, social partners, and associations

Interest organisations, social partners and associations are consulted in Danish policymaking. Politicians consult interest organisations during the formulation of bills or analyses of the opposition’s bills. The consultation is a mechanism to ensure that all perspectives are included in the final proposal.


Ministries are obliged to send bills in a formal consultation. See section 5.4 Interest organisations and private persons may contact politicians regarding specific concerns of the organisations’ members.


Citizen motions

Since January 2018, all persons entitled to vote in general elections in Denmark can formulate a policy proposal if a minimum of three additional persons sign the proposal. If the proposal subsequently receives support from 50 000 persons entitled to vote in general elections, the parliament is obliged to discuss and vote on the motion.


Youth-related citizen motions that have been passed in parliament (examples):


Monitoring and evaluation of youth policies

The national legislation is subject to monitoring and evaluation by national agencies, ministries and a range of public institutions. These evaluations, analyses and reports are the basis for the development of new policies and policy reforms.

See below for a detailed description of how the monitoring and evaluation of youth policy are conducted in Denmark.


Target groups

The scope of Danish youth policy is that all children and young people should have the best start in life. Regardless of social background, children and young people must have the same possibilities to learn, develop, thrive and be educated.


The general focus is on young people’s well-being and early intervention. Therefore, any child or young person is the target group of Danish youth policy.


The National Agency for Youth

There is no national agency for youth.


Policy monitoring and evaluation

The policies and measures in the field of youth policy are monitored and evaluated. Evaluation can be conducted by a ministry or agency (internal), by researchers (external) or by a range of state institutions. Some monitoring and evaluations are ad hoc while others are regular.


The national legislation is subject to monitoring and evaluation by national agencies. These evaluations, analyses and reports are the basis for the development of new policies and policy reforms.


Each sector ministry is responsible for national agencies that perform monitoring, evaluation and reporting.


Monitoring and evaluation under the auspices of the Ministry of Employment:

The Danish Agency for Labour Market and Recruitment (STAR) is responsible for implementing and following-up on employment policies in Denmark. The agency initiates tests, analyses, projects and reviews in order to establish a firm knowledge of which measures have a positive effect.


Ad hoc evaluations:


RCT (randomised controlled trial) is used to determine whether a cause–effect relationship exists between an employment measure and an outcome. Participants are divided into two groups: one group participates in the specific employment measure, which is tested, and the other group receives the standard employment measure.

When RCT is not possible, knowledge pilot projects are initiated, for instance ‘Bridge-building to education’.



The agency develops literature reviews based on Danish and international research on the effects of employment policies.


Inspiration projects

When no knowledge about a measure is available, the agency initiates inspiration projects in order to develop hypotheses and theories to test at a later stage.


Practice reports

The agency conducts practice reports on the implementation of employment policy reforms. The purpose of the reports is to ensure a uniform implementation of reforms in all municipalities. Most reports available on the agency’s website are conducted by external actors.

One example is a report on municipalities’ referral and assessment of young people under the age of 30 without an education.


Register-based analysis

The agency conducts register-based analysis. In register-based analyses, the effects of mechanisms in employment policies are estimated. One example is:

Young people’s journey from education benefit to education and employment.


Regular monitoring

The agency runs a knowledge bank called Job Effects (Jobeffekter). The knowledge bank collects and communicates research results in the area of employment policies. On the portal, it is possible to compare the effects of specific measures aimed at specific target groups. Furthermore, the portal also contains effect studies of employment measures.

Furthermore, the agency monitors all unemployment insurance funds and municipalities in their compliance with the law.


The Ministry of Children and Education

The National Agency for Teaching and Quality (Styrelsen for Undervisning og Kvalitet (STUK)) collects and distributes research on teaching and learning. Furthermore, the agency is responsible for a range of projects in order to gain new perspectives and knowledge, for instance:

  • Evaluation and research in connection with the primary and lower secondary education (folkeskole) reform. The focus areas are implementation and effects.
  • Evaluations of pupils’ well-being.

The agency also supervises all education institutions under the auspices of the ministry. The supervision covers the quality of education, economy, institutional matters/conditions and law compliance.

Furthermore, the Ministry of Children and Education funds projects that develop teaching. The purpose of the funding is to provide evidence-based knowledge on effective methods in schools and education institutions for the benefit of pupils. The knowledge is used in the development of new policies.


The Ministry of Social Affairs, Housing and Senior Citizens

The Ministry of Social Affairs, Housing and Senior Citizens often evaluates measures as a follow-up on new legislation. However, there is no specific focus on the 13-30-year age group.

The Danish Authority of Social Services and Housing evaluates projects and pools of funding. The evaluations can be midterm or final evaluations.

Furthermore, the National Council for Children collects knowledge on children’s conditions in Denmark. There is no regulation on the frequency of the studies.


The Ministry of Higher Education and Science

From time to time, the ministry initiates evaluations of areas within the ministry’s field of responsibility, for instance education programmes, the admission system, the grading scale, etc. The evaluations are ad hoc and the mechanisms differ. Some evaluations are conducted by the ministry or agencies under the ministry while others are conducted by external researchers or market research companies.

The Danish Agency for Higher Education and Science is the supervising authority of higher education institutions. The systematic supervision of education institutions is based on:

  • The education institutions’ annual reports and auditor’s records (economic supervision).
  • The supervision in relation to the strategic framework contracts is based on annual progress reports from the education institutions. The contracts contain specific measurable strategic targets in relation to the education institution’s key tasks, which are established in a dialogue between the institution and the ministry.

Other types of supervision are ad hoc:

  • Thematic supervision: supervision of selected themes or single issues. The purpose of thematic supervision is to monitor if new regulations have the intended effect or if new legislation is properly implemented. Reports based on the thematic supervision are published on the ministry’s website.

The Ministry of the Interior and Health

The Danish Health Authority has the overall responsibility for monitoring and evaluating trends in the health and well-being within the Danish population, including the Danish youth. The Danish Health Authority initiates evaluations of projects and campaigns, for instance:

Specific publications and topics are described in detail on the Danish Health Authority’s website:

Other institutions such as the National Institute of Public Health also contribute with monitoring the health among the Danish youth. This work is conducted through special agreements with the Ministry of the Interior and Health.

With regard to more specific evaluations, two overall reports can be mentioned. The National Health Profile and ‘Skolebørnsundersøgelsen’/Health Behaviour in School-Aged Children (HBSC) are published every four years. They describe the overall pattern regarding health and well-being in the Danish population and youth.


The National Health Profile

Every four years, a National Health Profile report is published by the Danish Health Authority in collaboration with the five Danish regions and the National Institute of Public Health. The most recent National Health Profile was published in 2017, and a new version is expected to be published in 2021. In this report series, data on Danish citizens aged 16 years and above is monitored in relation to the following topics:

  • Health and well-being
  • Morbidity
  • Health behaviour
  • Contact with the healthcare system
  • Social relations
  • Years of Good Life

The results are used as a basis to coordinate health promotion interventions as well as to identify regional and municipal health differences in the Danish population. In addition, the data is used to monitor and evaluate the development in various health figures.


The Danish School Health Survey (Skolebørnsundersøgelsen)

Skolebørnsundersøgelsen is the Danish contribution to the WHO cross-national study Health Behaviour in School-Aged Children. This study has been conducted in Denmark since 1982, and the most recent report was published in 2018 by the National Institute of Public Health. The report is based on a questionnaire survey of 11-15-year-old school children and covers topics such as self-reported health, well-being and health behaviour. The results are used for research purposes as well as health promotion initiatives targeting Danish youth.


Evaluation and monitoring performed by other state institutions

The Social Appeals Board (Ankestyrelsen). The Social Appeals Board is an independent state institution that settles complaint cases from citizens in Denmark regarding social policy and labour market policy. Furthermore, the Social Appeals Board supervises municipalities and regions. The Social Appeals Board can initiate inquiries regarding municipalities’ implementation of social policy and labour market policy. The analyses strengthen the quality of municipal administration and equal treatment of citizens across the country. Examples of analyses in relation to young people:

The Social Supervision (Socialtilsynet). In every region, one municipality is in charge of the supervision of all social measures in the region. The supervision is a quality assurance measure.

Benchmarking Unit (Benchmarkingenhed). The Benchmarking Unit is an independent institution under the Ministry of the Interior and Housing. The unit provides analyses of the municipalities’ and regions’ performance, for instance:

The Ombudsman for Children section. The Danish Ombudsman for Children can initiate cases when there is an indication of a public authority’s non-compliance with the law. Furthermore, the ombudsman visits private and public institutions where young people are placed in care outside the home. Finally, the ombudsman oversees that international conventions on children are observed.

Besides the audits of public spending, the National Audit Office of Denmark conducts performance studies, called major studies, that cover a wide range of subjects and reflect what the National Audit Office considers essential for efficient, effective and financially sound administration. The National Audit Office has a follow-up procedure that contributes to ensuring that the audits are effective. The responsible minister is asked to submit his/her comments to the report with a statement on what will be implemented to meet the recommendations of the audit office. The ministerial statement and the follow-up memoranda prepared by the audit office are made public and submitted to the parliament and form the basis of the parliament’s approval of the governmental accounts for the fiscal year.

Examples of major studies and follow-up procedures in relation to children and young people in 2020:

Ad hoc evaluations

Instead of evaluations made by national agencies, the sector ministries can choose to put the evaluation out to tender. In some instances, analyses, consultancy services and evaluations are subject to procurement rules and must be published at the portal Udbud.

Research centres and private consultancy enterprises can apply, and the public provider must make a choice based on price as well as criteria established in the project description.



Some evaluations are made at regular intervals, for instance the social policy report (Socialpolitisk redegørelse 2022) and the report on higher education and science (Uddannelses- og forskningspolitisk redegørelse 2019). These are annual publications.

Furthermore, evaluations and reports are made midterm and as a final report after the implementation of reforms, projects and programmes.


Type of outcomes

The evaluations are used in several ways:

  • To inform policymaking
  • To initiate reforms if the evaluations indicate inefficient measures or unintended consequences
  • To validate methods
  • To develop and improve methods