Primary Source

Child Labor Statistics by World Region [Chart]


The chart shows summative data for several world regions and types of countries on the subject of child labor. The figures refer to the percentage of children 5-14 years of age involved in child labor, meaning as a percentage of the total population of children in a country or region. The complete chart, showing all reporting countries can be accessed at For statistical purposes, a child is considered to be involved in child labor under the following classification: (a) children 5-11 years of age who did at least one hour of economic activity or at least 28 hours of domestic work during the week preceding the survey, and (b) children 12-14 years of age who did at least 14 hours of economic activity or at least 28 hours domestic work during the week preceding the survey.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) established the International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC) in 1992 with the goal of progressively eliminating child labor, through research, building countries' capacity to deal with the problem, and promoting a worldwide movement to combat child labor. Whether or not particular forms of "work" can be called "child labor" depends on the child's age, the type and hours of work performed, the conditions under which it is performed and the objectives pursued by individual countries.

IPEC classifies acceptable and unacceptable types of child labor. Acceptable work includes children helping parents around the home, earning pocket money after school and on holidays, and even helping in a family business. Such activity is viewed as beneficial to children's development and socialization. Unacceptable child labor, in contrast, is harmful to physical and mental development, to children's dignity, and "deprives children of their childhood." Child labor should be eliminated if it is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful to children; if it interferes with their schooling by preventing them from attending school, obligates them to leave school prematurely, or requires excessively long and heavy work as to compromise children's ability to attend school or learn effectively. The most extreme forms of unacceptable child labor include enslavement or bonded labor, separation from their families, exposure to hazards and illness, or being forced onto the streets of large cities to sleep and work for a living.


Statistical chart from United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) at <a class="external" href=""></a>; information on definitions of child labor from International Labour Organization and the International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour at <a class="external" href=""></a> (accessed November 2, 2009). Annotated by Susan Douglass.

How to Cite This Source

"Child Labor Statistics by World Region [Chart]," in Children and Youth in History, Item #349, (accessed August 10, 2021).