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EACEA National Policies Platform


1. Youth Policy Governance

1.1 Target population of youth policy

Last update: 28 November 2023

Defining the target population of different public policy measures targeted to youth is based on the legislation of the Republic of Estonia. Legislative acts constitute a framework that determines and regulates the activities, programmes, services and benefits targeting young people. The youth field (youth policy and youth work) in Estonia is defined by many legal acts, but as a key legal act the Youth Work Act is considered. 

The act states that a young person is a natural person between 7 and 26 years of age. The Youth Sector Development Plan 2021-2035 (Noortevaldkonna arengukava 2021-2035)  considers the same age group as its target population, with some specific focuses and indicators concerning the age group 18-26. Other official documents define some more narrow age groups according to the particular field of youth policy, e.g. child welfare for minors up to the age of 18, labor market considering 15-26 years olds for (un-)employment and 18-26 years old for entrepreneurship etc.).


The list of different acts that mention young people gives an idea of what aspects of the young people's lives are regulated by:

  1. Constitution of the Republic of Estonia
  2. General Part of the Civil Code Act
  3. Basic Schools and Upper Secondary School Act
  4. Vocational Educational Institutions Act
  5. Institutions of Professional Higher Education Act
  6. Universities Act
  7. Private Schools Act
  8. Hobby Schools Act
  9. Study Allowances and Study Loans Act
  10. Family Law Act
  11. State Family Benefits Act
  12. Commercial Code
  13. Non-profit Associations Act
  14. Child Protection Act
  15. Military Service Act
  16. Penal Code
  17. Code of Criminal Procedure
  18. Code of Civil Procedure
  19. Imprisonment Act
  20. Traffic Act
  21. Employment Contracts Act
  22. Labor Market Services and Benefits Act
  23. Weapons Act
  24. Alcohol Act
  25. Tobacco Act
  26. Health Insurance Act
  27. Social Welfare Act
  28. Local Government Organisation Act
  29. Sport Act

Based on the review of the acts, one could conclude that they make a difference between the following age groups: 

  • children from age 0 until approximately 10 years of age;
  • children and young people from age 10 until mid-teens;
  • children and young people from mid-teens until the age of 18;
  • young adults / emerging adulthood, from age 18 until early and mid-twenties;
  • young adults / emerging adulthood, onward from mid-twenties. 

Determing specific age ranges within the overall youth population (which in the case of Estonia is rather uniquely diverse, from 7 up to 26 years) might be useful for establishing stronger links between youth and other public policies but also for design of specific services.