LAOS

General information about adolescents

In Lao PDR the majority of the population is young, with 60% of the over six million inhabitants estimated to be under the age of 25 and more than 30% are between 10 and 24 years.

Health

Sexual reproductive health

  • Risky sexual behaviour, such as low condom use and multiple sex partners, are prevalent among Lao’s youth, in particular among ethnic minorities.
  • Another problem mentioned is that young people would like to buy condoms but they are not able to afford them.
  • Furthermore, young females are afraid to buy condoms themselves as they consider it immoral.
  • The average age of first sex among males is 16.8 years. 19% of unmarried young women reported having had sex.
  • HIV prevalence in Lao PDR is with 0.2% reasonably low, however especially young men who engage in sex with other men are at high risk of getting infected.

Even though HIV is not the biggest concern in Lao, 80% of young people aged 15-19 have heard about it. However, more comprehensive knowledge about the infection is limited.

Alcohol, tobacco and drug use

  • There is no legal minimum age for alcohol consumption, subsequently consumption among young people is relatively high and with an average age of 13 years both young males and females start drinking quite early.
  • Alcohol abuse is often associated with other health-related concerns such as road accidents, unprotected sex and violence within the family.
  • Smoking tobacco is especially popular among young rural males.
  • Other frequently mentioned drugs were methamphetamine (yabaa), glue sniffing and eating or smoking opium.

[Adolescent and Youth Situation Analysis Lao People’s Democratic Republic, 2014]

Adolescent pregnancy

  • Lao PDR has one of the highest adolescent birth rates in the region – 94 births per 1,000 girls (age 15 – 19)[1]
  • There are distinct differences between rural and urban areas – 114 and 44 births per 1000 girls respectively [2]
  • Adolescent contraceptive use is low at 22.3% and unmet need for contraception is 22.6% [3]

Early marriage

According to the Adolescent and Youth Situation Analysis Lao PDR, 2014[4]:

Early marriage is common in Lao PDR

Of adolescents aged 15-19, 19% of women and 6% of men are married

Of adolescents aged 20-24 years, 59% of women and 36% of men are married

The median age of first marriage among women aged 25-49 years is 19.2 years, a figure which has remained relatively unchanged in the last two decades

The proportion of young people who are married is strongly correlated to their level of education and their wealth quin-tile

A smaller proportion of urban youth are married compared to rural youth and early marriage is more common in some ethnic groups.

Nutrition

  • Underweight is one severe problem that affects one in four children under the age of 5 in Lao, 7% of children are even severely malnourished.
  • Stunting is also common among children: 44% of children under the age of 5 are moderately stunted, 19% severely stunted.
  • Data on adolescence is limited.

[Lao PDR, Lao Social Indicator Survey (LSIS) 2011-12]

[1] Figure from 2013. Human Development Reports, UNDP

[2] Adolescent and Youth Situation Analysis Lao PDR (2014) Lao People’s Revolutionary Youth Union, Vientiane

[3] Adolescent and Youth Situation Analysis Lao PDR (2014) Lao People’s Revolutionary Youth Union, Vientiane

[4] Adolescent and Youth Situation Analysis Lao PDR (2014) Lao People’s Revolutionary Youth Union, Vientiane

Education

According to the Adolescent and Youth Situation Analysis Lao PDR, 2014[1]:

  • The net enrolment rate for primary school is 95.2% of youth
  • Even though primary school enrolment is high, the quality of education is poor: 54% of girls who have completed primary school education are nevertheless illiterate.
  • Subsequently secondary school enrolment is rare, only 46% advance to this level and just 35% engage in senior secondary education.
  • Females aged 15-49 are clearly disadvantaged as only 11% in the Social Indicator Survey graduated from senior secondary school.
  • Recent trends however predict a rise in secondary school enrolment for young people.
  • Literacy rates are of young women aged 15-24 years are lower than their male counterparts, 69% and 77% respectively
  • Girls from some ethnic communities and lower wealth quintiles are at an educational disadvantage

[Population Situation Analysis Lao PDR, 2015]

[1] Adolescent and Youth Situation Analysis Lao PDR (2014) Lao People’s Revolutionary Youth Union, Vientiane

Employment

According to the Adolescent and Youth Situation Analysis Lao PDR, 2014[1]:

  • Labour participation of young people is high
  • For young people aged 15-19 years 48.9% are currently employed and 83.7% for 20-24 year old
  • The percentage of currently employed females is higher than the percentage of currently employed males in the 15-24 age group

[1] Adolescent and Youth Situation Analysis Lao PDR (2014) Lao People’s Revolutionary Youth Union, Vientiane