Vital StatisticsData collection on child labour is vital for accurate policy and programme planning. An increasing number of countries in all regions now carry out national child labour surveys. The following statistics summarise the key findings from the third ILO Global Report on Child Labour Accelerating action against child labour1 which contains new global estimates on child labour.
- On average, one child in every seven can be classified as a child labourer.
- In 2008, there were approximately 215 million child labourers, aged 5-17, in the world. Among them, 115 million children were in hazardous work (a term which is often used as a proxy for the worst forms of child labour).
- Nearly 114 million child labourers are in Asia and the Pacific.
- Just over 14 million are in Latin America and the Caribbean.
- Just over 65 million are in Sub-Saharan Africa.
- Over 22 million are in other regions, which includes the Middle East and North Africa, the developed countries and the former transition economies of Eastern Europe and Asia.
- The proportion of children engaged in child labour in Sub-Saharan Africa is currently the highest of any region at around 25.3%. This means that in this region, approximately one child in every 4 can be classified as a child labourer.
- This is compared with 13.3% in Asia and the Pacific (one in 8 children), 10% in Latin America and the Caribbean (one in 10 children), and 6.7% in other regions (one in 15 children).
- Most child labourers are working in agriculture (60.0%). 25.6% work in services, 7.0% in industry and 7.5% work in undefined areas.
- Only one in five child labourers are in paid employment. The overwhelming majority are unpaid family workers.
Boys cleaning new carpets in Fayum.
Child labour is declining, but progress is too slow and too uneven.
- The number of child labourers globally fell by 3% over the 2004 – 2008 period. This is compared with an 11% decline over the 2000 – 2004 period.
- With regard to children aged 5-14 in economic activity, the Asian-Pacific region and Latin America and the Caribbean experienced a decrease. In contrast, for the same age group, the number of children in economic activity is increasing in Sub-Saharan Africa.
- There has been a welcome 15% decrease in the number of girls in child labour. Boys, however, saw their work increase.
1 ILO: Accelerating action against child labour, Global Report under the follow-up to the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, Report of the Director-General, Report I(B), International Labour Conference, 99th Session, Geneva 2010