Causes of Child Labor

How Much Child Labor in the World?

When investigating how much child labor in the world, the Child Labor Coalition reports that approximately 152 million children are involved in forced child labor and approximately 218 children as young as five years old are employed. However, a 2020 report estimates that the numbers have increased to 160 million.

Industries that are the biggest culprits of employing child laborers include the following:

Factories – The garment and fashion industries push child labor. Children are involved in every part of the clothing-making process.

Agriculture – Cotton and cocoa farming, as well as other areas of agriculture, are major culprits of child labor. Cotton is the best-selling fabric in the world, so the cotton market is very appealing to farmers. Children work up to 12 hours a day, seven days a week during the harvest period, and they make less than $1.50 per day.

Mines – An example of child labor in the mining industry is found in The Democratic Republic of the Congo, where cobalt mining is prevalent. Congolese activists who are working to end the abuse say there are about 10,000 children in the country’s mining industry.

Fishing – Child labor is also popular in commercial fishing, especially in Honduras, the Philippines, Bangladesh, Ghana, Haiti, Cambodia, Indonesia and Thailand. This is because there are gaps in labor protection in those countries.

Domestic Help – In many countries, small girls and teens are forced into domestic responsibilities, toiling for long hours with little compensation.

Child Soldiers – Children are sometimes called upon to serve their countries in armed conflicts, one of the worst forms of child labor. Some fight on the front lines, serve on suicide missions, or act as lookouts.

GFA World is helping in the fight against child labor by providing positive alternatives to help families keep their children in school and out of the workforce. We do this partially through child sponsorship, which alleviates financial pressures from a family. We also help adults through literacy classes, income-generating skills training and more.

Learn more about causes of child labor

1 Maki, Reid. “10 Basic Facts about Child Labor Globally.” The Child Labor Coalition. July 16, 2018.
3 Walt, Vivian and Meyer, Sebastian. “Blood, Sweat, and Batteries.” Fortune, August 23, 2018.