Countries with Child Labor
Child labor is a critical problem around the world, but there are certain countries with more child labor than others. It is important to remember that statistics concerning child labor are difficult to gauge.
Some countries have legal consequences for child labor, which deters complete reporting. Also, many countries only count children who are living in a household. Orphaned or street children often go uncounted in these reports. In many cases, those are the children who are more likely to be involved in child labor—whether forced or voluntary. Also, countries that require children to attend school have unreported numbers since adults who keep children out of school may fear prosecution. Therefore, many experts think that the statistics for child labor may be far greater than reported.
Given these difficulties is assessing child labor statistics, some data does exist. If you were to take the 218 million child laborers in the world and make them into a country of their own, it would constitute the fifth largest country in the world.
The World Atlas lists the following among countries with the most child labor:1
Located off the Horn of Africa, almost 40% of children ages 5 to 14 living in Somalia are working in labor industries. Many of those children can be found begging on the streets. Others work in industries like fishing, farming, construction, and mining.
Poverty greatly influences the child labor rates in Pakistan. With over 17% of people living in poverty, children are often sent to work to help fulfill the needs of the family. Agriculture is the industry that employs many children in Pakistan. This includes shrimping, fishing, harvesting and processing. Other children work in industries like restaurants, transportation, glass, carpet, coal, brick kilns and automotive.
This African country hosts over 15 million children who work in labor industries. In fact, girls often enter the workforce before boys, mostly as domestic helpers. Both boys and girls work in agriculture, car washing, shoe shining, and so on. Some are involved in begging. Nigeria is also a hot spot for child exploitation.
This is the largest country in mainland Southeast Asia. Around 1.5 million children in the country are child laborers. The main industries with child labor are agriculture, construction and small-scale industry.
Located on the West African coast, this country has more than 30% of its children laboring. Agriculture is the main industry for children, and children are often exposed to hazardous activities and chemicals.
Located in landlocked Africa, this country has more tha 41% of its children in child labor. Only about half finish primary school. The major areas of work with child laborers are shoe shining, mining and vending.
Democratic Republic of the Congo.
More than 3 million children are forced to work in the Congo. Children are forced into armed conflicts as well as mines, agriculture and other industries. Some children are also in slave labor.
Agriculture and oil production are the main industries that use children in this north-central African country. Many children are sold or trafficked against their will or they become child soldiers.
This South Asian country tops the list of child labor in different countries. It is home to many child laborers, mostly in garment factories, agriculture and manufacturing.
Other reports add Eritrea, Sudan, Afghanistan, Zimbabwe and Yemen to the list of top countries with the most child labor.2
Poverty is a significant indicator in the high rates of child labor. Children are often called upon or forced to supplement their family’s income. When families are given positive alternatives to provide for their children’s needs, they often choose to leave their children in school. Since education is the most crucial factor in breaking the cycle of poverty, it is essential to keep children in school and out of the workforce.
GFA World is committed to helping children, their families and communities through community-wide solutions which may include opportunities for education, medical care, protection against malnutrition, clean water and more. When children are sponsored, it relieves financial pressure from the parents. Their needs are taken care of and they are less likely to be forced to work.
Will you join us in this important mission? Sponsor a child and help keep children from child labor.
1 Sen Nag, Oishimaya. “Worst Countries for Child Labor.” World Atlas. https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/worst-countries-for-child-labor.html. January 2022.
2 Hunt, Katie. “The 10 worst countries for child labor.” CNN. https://www.cnn.com/2013/10/15/world/child-labor-index-2014/index.html