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Minimum age for when school-children can be employed, married and taken to court?

The information presented in the table below permits easy comparison of minimum ages in different countries. It is a preview of the updated version of At What Age...? and reflects analysis of states parties’ reports to the CRC Committee between 1993 and 2010. For details, please consult our country database. Please note that our country database has recently been updated, and now covers the reporting period 1993 - 2010. Please also see a note on scope and methodology for this table at the bottom of this page. 

LEGENDA

X = information unavailable     ? = information unclear      ° = information from dialogue 

 * = see report for details      n/c = not compulsory               

Country

Info. as of

Minimum ages for

End of compulsory education

 

Admission to employment

Marriage

Criminal responsibility

General

girl/boy

Exception

girl/boy

Albania

2004

14

16

16/18

14

Algeria

2005

16

16*

18/21

13

Andorra

2001

16

16

16

14

16

Angola

2004

12

14

18

15/16

16

Antigua & Barb.

2003

16

16*

No min.

8

Argentina

2002

15

14*

16/18*

No min.

16

Armenia

2003

?

15*

17/18

?

14

Australia

2004

15*

No min.*

18

16

10

Austria

2004

15

15

18

16/18

14

Azerbaijan

2005

?

15

X

14

Bahamas

2004

16

?

15

13

10

Bahrain

2001

n/c

14*

X

?

Bangladesh

2008

10

14

18/21

No min.

9

Barbados

1997

16

?

18

16

7

Belarus

2001

15

14*

18

No min.

14

Belgium

1994

15

15

18

No min.

16*

Belize

2004

14*

14*

18

14

9

Benin

2005

?

14

15/18

No min.°

Bhutan

2007

?

No min.*

18

10

Bolivia

2009

16

14

14/16

16*

Bosnia & Herz.

2004

?

15

18

16

14

Botswana

2004

n/c

15

14/16

8

Brazil

2003

14

16

18

16

12

Brunei Daruss.

2003

n/c

?

No min.

7

Bulgaria

2007

16

16

18

16

No min.*

Burkina Faso

2002

n/c*

?

17/20

15/18*

13

Burundi

1998

12

12*

?

No min.

13

Cambodia

1999

n/c

16

18/20

No min.

Cameroon

2001

n/c

14

15/18*

No min.

10

Canada

2003

X*

17*

X*

12

Cape Verde

2001

16

?

?

16

Central Afr. Rep.

1999

?

14

18

13

Chad

2007

15

No min.*

?

13

Chile

2005

?

15

16

14*

China

2005

15

16

20/22

14

Colombia

2005

15

14

18

12/14°

?

Comoros

1998

14

No min.*

?

13

Congo

2006

16

16

X

No min.*

Costa Rica

2004

?

15

X

No min.

Côte D’Ivoire

2000

n/c

No min.*

21

No min.

10

Croatia

2003

15

15

18

16

14

Cuba

1996

?

17*

X

16

Cyprus

2002

15

15

16/18°

No min.°

10

Czech Republic

2002

15

15

18

16

15

DPR Korea

2008

16

16

17/18

14

DRC

2008

?

16*

15/18

?

Denmark

2005

16

13

18

15

15

Djibouti

2007

?

16

18

No min.

13

Dominica

2004

16

?

18

16

12

Dominican Rep.

2007

14

14

?

No min.

13

Ecuador

2004

?

15

18

12/14

12

Egypt

1999

14

14

16/18

7

El Salvador

2003

15

14

18

No min.

12

Equatorial Guinea

2004

12

No min.*

?

No min.°

Eritrea

2007

13

14

No min.

12

Estonia

2002

15

15

18

15

13

Ethiopia

2005

n/c

No min.*

No min.*

9

Fiji

1996

n/c

12

21

16/18

10

Finland

2005

16

15

18

No min.

15

France

2008

16

16

18

No min.

No min.*

Gabon

2001

16

16*

?

No min.

13

Gambia

2000

n/c*

No min.°

X

7

Georgia

2007

14

16

18

16

12°

Germany

2003

15

15

16

14

Ghana

2005

15

15

18

12

Greece

2001

15

15

18

No min.

12

Grenada

1997

14

14

21

No min.

7*

Guatemala

2000

?

No min.*

14/16*

12

Guinea

1997

16

?

17/18

?

18

Guinea-Bissau

2001

X

No min.*

No min.

16

Guyana

2003

?

14

16

No min.

10

Haiti

2002

X

15

18

No min.

13*

Honduras

2006

13

14

18

16

12

Hungary

2005

18

16

18

16

14

Iceland

2002

16

16

18

No min.

15

India

2003

14*

14*

18/21*

7

Indonesia

2003

n/c*

No min.*

21

16/19

8

Iran

2003

11

12°

13/15°

No min.

Iraq

1996

?

15

X

No min.*

Ireland

2005

16

16

18

No min.

7*

Israel

2002

15*

15*

No min.*

?

Italy

2002

16

16

18

16

14*

Jamaica

2003

14

12

18

16

12

Japan

2003

15

15

16/18

12*

Jordan

2006

16

16

18

7*

Kazakhstan

2006

?

15

18

16

14

Kenya

2006

n/c

?

No min.

8

Kiribati

2005

14

14

16

10

Kuwait

1996

14

14

15/17

7

Kyrgyzstan

2004

16*

14

18

17/18

14

Lao PDR

1996

?

15

18

15

Latvia

2005

15

15

18

16

Lebanon

2005

12*

13*

No min.

7

Lesotho

1998

X

No min.*

?

No min.

7

Liberia

2003

?

16

?

16

Libyan Arab Jam.

2002

15

15

20

15

14

Liechtenstein

2005

15

15

18

No min.

14

Lithuania

2005

16

16

18

No min.*

14

Luxembourg

1997

15

15

16/18

16

Madagascar

2003

?

14

18

No min.

13

Malawi

2008

n/c

14

No min.

7

Malaysia

2006

12

15

18

No min.

?

Maldives

2006

n/c*

14

18

No min.

?

Mali

2006

15

14

15/18

No min.

13

Malta

1998

16

15*

16

9

Marshall Islands

2005

14*

18

18

10

Mauritania

2008

14

14

18

No min.

7

Mauritius

2005

12

15

18

16

No min.

Mexico

2005

14

14*

14/16

No min.

11

Micronesia

1996

14

No min.*

No min.

?

Monaco

2000

16

16

15/18

No min.

13

Mongolia

2004

17

14*

18

14

Montenegro 2010 15 15 18 16 16*
Morocco 2003 13* ?                15/18 12*

Mozambique

2009

?

15*

18

16

16

Myanmar

2003

?

13

14/ No min.°

?

Namibia

1993

?

14

21

No min.*

7

Nepal

2004

n/c

14

21/18

16/18

10

Netherlands

2008

18*

16

18

No min.

12

New Zealand

2003

16*

?

20

16

10

Nicaragua

2004

?

14

18/21

14/15

13

Niger

2008

16

14

?

No min.

13

Nigeria 2004 15

No min.

18*

No min.°

No min.

Norway

2004

16

15

18

16

15

Oman

2006

n/c°

15

18

No min.

9

Pakistan

2009

n/c*

No min.*

16/18*

No min.

7

Palau

2000

17

No min.

No min.

10

Panama

2003

?

?

14/16

14

Papua New Guin.

2003

n/c

No min.

No min.

7

Paraguay

2001

14

14

16

14

14

Peru

2005

18

?

18

14/16

12

Philippines

2009

?

15*

No min.

?

Poland

2002

15

15

18

16/18

10

Portugal

2001

15

15

18

16

16

Qatar

2008

15

16

16/18

No min.

7

Republic of Korea

2002

15

15

16/18

?

Rep. of Moldova

2008

16

15

16/18

14/16

14

Romania

2008

18

15*

16/18

15/18

14

Russian Fed.

2004

15

15

18

No min.

14

Rwanda

2003

12

No min.*

21

No min.

14

Saint Kitts & Nevis

1997

16

16

16

8

Saint Lucia

2004

?

16

18

No min.

?

Saint Vince. & Gre.

2001

n/c

?

15/16

8

Samoa

2006

13

15

19/21

No min.

8

San Marino

2003

16

16

18

16

12

Sao Tome & Princ.

2003

n/c*

14

18

14/16

17

Saudi Arabia

2005

?

No min.*

No min.

Senegal

2006

16

15

16/?*

?

Serbia

2007

14

15

16

14

Seychelles

2002

15

15

18

No min.

7

Sierra Leone

2006

?

No min.*

No min.

16

Singapore

2003

?

12

18

No min.

7

Slovakia

2006

16

16

18

16

14

Slovenia

2003

15

15

18

No min.

14

Solomon Islands

2002

n/c

12

No min.

8

South Africa

1999

15

No min.*

21

12/14

7

Spain

2001

16

16

14

12

Sri Lanka

2002

14*

14

18

No min.

8

Sudan

2001

n/c*

14*

21

10

7*

Suriname

2005

?

14

13/15*

10*

Swaziland

2006

n/c

No min.

21

No min.

7

Sweden

2004

16

16

?

No min.

15

Switzerland

2001

15

15

18

7*

Syrian Arab Rep.

2002

12*

12

17/18

No min.

7

Tajikistan 1998 16 14 17 16 14

Thailand

2005

15

15

17

No min.

7

FYR of Macedonia

1997

15

15

18

16

14

Timor-Leste

2007

n/c

15

15/18

12

Togo

2004

n/c°

14

No min.°

Trinidad & Tobago

2004

12

12

12/14

7

Tunisia

2001

16

16

                  18

?

Turkey

2000

14

12

18

14/15

11

Turkmenistan

2005

?

16

18

16

14

Uganda

2004

?

No min.*

No min.

7*

Ukraine

2001

17

16*

17/18

No min.

14

U.A.E.

2001

12

15

X

7

United Kingdom

2008

16

16

16*

8

Un. Rep. Tanzania

2005

?

14°

15/18

No min.

12

Uruguay

2006

14*

15

12/14°

18

Uzbekistan

2005

18

16

17/18

16/17

13

Vanuatu

1997

n/c

12

21

16/18

10

Venezuela

2007

14

14

18

No min.

18

Viet Nam

2002

10

?

18/20

14

Yemen

2004

?

14

15

No min.°

7

Zambia

2002

n/c

No min.

No min.

8

Zimbabwe

1995

n/c

No min.

16/18

No min.

7

 

LEGENDA

X = information unavailable     ? = information unclear      ° = information from dialogue 

 * = see report for details      n/c = not compulsory

               

Methodology

This table summarises results of a great deal of research, based on an analysis of States Parties' reports to the Committee on the Rights of the Child. For the full country-by-country analysis, please visit our country database. This was updated in October 2010 to include information collected for the period 2004-2010.

 

First published in 2002, At What Age…? included States Parties’ reports submitted between January 1997 and August 2002. In 2004 it was revised to include reports from August 2002 to January 2004. It has recently been updated to cover 18 years of monitoring (1993-2010), and therefore offers a timely occasion to assess if the international community has “come of age” with respect to its treatment of minors.

State reports are the primary source for this research, accounting for more than 98% of the information harvested. Where clear minimum ages were not included in these reports, the dialogue between States Parties and the Committee was consulted through Summary Records, Written Replies, and Concluding Observations issued for the relevant monitoring session. The decision to rely mainly on States Parties’ reports was taken for two reasons. Firstly, these reports constitute public self-assessment by governments and are consequently an authoritative source, emanating directly from those empowered to make decisions. This type of analysis therefore permits a range of actors to hold governments accountable for the standards which they themselves report under the CRC. Secondly, using the interaction between States and the Committee allows both inter-national comparison and a world-wide overview of the global direction of children’s rights implementation, as all States - except for Somalia and the US - are bound by the same process.  

Whilst the reports of non-governmental organisations and UN agencies, as well as academic material or field work, would undoubtedly provide an important and insightful counterfoil to the sources used here, they have been omitted in the interests of uniformity. Not all reviews include alternative reports, nor do all States allow genuine NGO work and participation. Additionally, examining only those countries for which shadow reports are available would not do justice to the desire to develop inter-national comparison and global analysis. Ultimately, the rationale was to develop a methodology that could be applied universally. 

However, this does not mean that the research methodology was any easier. Comparing different ages across countries or even within the same country is a difficult task, and inferring a precise number from a general description is a dangerous exercise. Collecting, analysing and interpreting information from States Parties’ reports requires a great deal of care, thought and patience. Individual country reports are often more than one hundred pages long, and written by diverse parts of the government - not always in close consultation with one another. Moreover, within some States’ legal systems there are various recognised sources of law which frequently generate conflicting minimum ages, further complicating the task of distilling a single age from the information provided.  

Another equally serious challenge relates to transparency and/or lack of information. Firstly, there is a danger that those countries with a more honest engagement with the reporting process might come off worse when compared with those which would misrepresent the degree of compliance, whether wilfully or not. Secondly, failure to report is also difficult to interpret as it may indicate an indirect recognition of inconsistent practices (i.e. information on a specific age may at times not be included in an attempt to mask violations), a lacuna in domestic monitoring, or simply an oversight. For the purposes of this research, however, and in the best interest of children, it has been assumed that if no minimum age is included in the reports of a State party, none exists there in practice. 

In order to maintain coherence, the following methodology has been followed uniformly to arrive at the interpretations presented in the summary table. Where no information is provided, this is indicated by a cross (X); where the information is available but not sufficiently clear, or is self-contradictory, a question mark (?) is used. A star (*) indicates a proposed change in legislation, a division of competence in federal States, or a particular exception or practice that begs closer scrutiny. Where the information comes from the Concluding Observations, Summary Records or Written Replies, a circle (°) is used. Otherwise, the information provided in the reports is translated into a precise number or "no minimum" for each specific case according to the respective guiding criteria.

Reports and other sources have been reproduced faithfully, and where information has been omitted as it was judged irrelevant this is clearly indicated in the following manner: […]. For a fully authoritative record, readers are encouraged to make use of the original text, available on the website of the Committee on the Rights of the Child, following document symbols and paragraph references given for each report.