There is no official, objective or quantified definition of “youth” in France.
Previously described as a “transition period” marked by a crossing of thresholds charactering “adulthood” (stable job, own accommodation, building a household, etc.), youth is now regarded as a process of identity construction made up of “discontinuous and reversible” experiences and tests.
Statistical and demographic study institutes in various countries nonetheless retain the 16 to 25 age bracket, which is consequently the one most used by public authorities. 25 is considered to be the age of “social majority” in so far as it is the age at which young people are entitled to make full use of certain rights, social rights in particular (including minimum wage and supplementary health insurance).
This period of life is marked both by the end of a legal obligation:
- End of compulsory schooling at age 16
and access to new social rights and benefits (non-exhaustive list):
- majority and the right to vote at age 18;
- possibility of receiving various social benefits from age 25 onwards: Revenu de Solidarité Active (RSA – minimum income);
- eligibility to the prime d’activité (activity bonus) introduced on 1 January 2016, which concerns all “modest income” workers over 18: students with jobs, apprentices and the self-employed, who can benefit from it according to their resources;
- access to mobility programmes, whose age-limits vary depending on operator: 30 for the Office Franco-Allemand pour la Jeunesse (OFAJ – Franco-German Youth Office [FGYO]), and 35 for the Office Franco-Québécois pour la Jeunesse (OFQJ – Franco-Québécois Youth Office), for example.
- Mandatory training for young people aged 16 to 18 year-old
Prolongation of duration of studies and later entry on to the job market – and the job stabilisation period – tend to extend this period beyond age 25. Faced with this, the public authorities favour the notion of a “journey towards autonomy” when drafting their youth policies.