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Child Labor Statistics by Gender and Sector [Chart]


The chart shows the employment sectors for male and female child laborers from age cohorts 5-14 and 15-17. The information is drawn from national child labor surveys in sixteen sample countries. It is based on nationally representative household surveys conducted between 1999 and 2007. The data comes from a study IPEC Statistical Information and Monitoring Programme on Child Labour (SIMPOC). (Geneva, ILO, 2009). The sample countries and the dates of data in the survey were Colombia (2001), Ecuador (2006), El Salvador (2001), Guatemala (2006), Burkina Faso (2006), Malawi (2002), Mali (2005), Senegal (2004), Cambodia (2001), Mongolia (2002), Philippines (2001), Sri Lanka (1999), Azerbaijan (2005), Kyrgyzstan (2007), Turkey (2006) and Ukraine (1999).

The statistics provide a more detailed picture of global child labor than what had been available previously. The chart shows that the majority of children were employed in agriculture, a significant portion employed in services, which can include everything from shoe-shining and windshield washing to street vending and hauling. A minority of child laborers are employed in shops, craft production and manufacture, which can include construction, mining, quarry work and the like, all hazardous jobs for children.

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. 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. 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.


"World Day 2009: Give girls a chance: End child labour,"International Labour Organization, (accessed November 2, 2009). Annotated by Susan Douglass.

How to Cite This Source

"Child Labor Statistics by Gender and Sector [Chart]," in Children and Youth in History, Item #350, (accessed August 10, 2021).