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About the data



Children at work Definitions

The data in the table refer to children’s work in the

data on children in employment and in the sampling

• Survey year is the year in which the underlying

sense of “economic activity”—that is, children in

design underlying the surveys. Differences exist

data were collected. • Children in employment are

employment, a broader concept than child labor

not only across different household surveys in the

children involved in any economic activity for at least

(see ILO 2009a for details on this distinction).

same country but also across the same type of sur-

one hour in the reference week of the survey. • Work

In line with the definition of economic activity

vey carried out in different countries, so estimates

only refers to children who are employed and not

adopted by the 13th International Conference of

of working children are not fully comparable across

attending school. • Study and work refer to chil­dren

Labour Statisticians, the threshold for classifying a


attending school in combination with employment.

person as employed is to have been engaged at least

The table aggregates the distribution of children in

• Employment by economic activity is the distribu-

one hour in any activity during the reference period

employment by the industrial categories of the Inter-

tion of children in employment by the major industrial

relating to the production of goods and services

national Standard Industrial Classification (ISIC):

categories (ISIC revision 2 or revi­sion 3). • Agricul-

set by the 1993 UN System of National Accounts.

agriculture, manufacturing, and services. A residual

ture corresponds to division 1 (ISIC revision 2) or

Children seeking work are thus excluded. Economic

category—which includes mining and quarrying;

categories A and B (ISIC revision 3) and includes

activity covers all market production and certain non-

electricity, gas, and water; construction; extraterri-

agriculture and hunting, forestry and logging, and

market production, including production of goods for

torial organization; and other inadequately defined

fishing. • Manufacturing corresponds to division 3

own use. It excludes unpaid household services (com-

activities—is not presented. Both ISIC revision 2 and

(ISIC revision 2) or category D (ISIC revision 3). • Ser-

monly called “household chores”)—that is, the pro-

revision 3 are used, depending on the country’s codi-

vices correspond to divisions 6–9 (ISIC revision

duction of domestic and personal services by house-

fication for describing economic activity. This does

2) or categories G–P (ISIC revision 3) and include

hold members for own-household consumption.

not affect the definition of the groups in the table.

wholesale and retail trade, hotels and restaurants,

Data are from household surveys conducted by

The table also aggregates the distribution of

transport, financial intermediation, real estate, pub-

the International Labor Organization (ILO), the United

children in employment by status in employment,

lic administration, education, health and social work,

Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Bank,

based on the International Classification of Status in

other community services, and private household

and national statistical offices. The surveys yield data

Employment (1993), which shows the distribution in

activity. • Self-employed workers are people whose

on education, employment, health, expenditure, and

employment by three major categories: selfemployed

remuneration depends directly on the profits derived

consumption indicators related to children’s work.

workers, wage workers (also known as employees),

from the goods and services they produce, with or

Household survey data generally include information

and unpaid family workers. A residual category—

without other employees, and include employers,

on work type—for example, whether a child is working

which includes those not classifiable by status—is

own-account workers, and members of produc-

for payment in cash or in kind or is involved in unpaid

not presented.

ers cooperatives. • Wage workers (also known as

work, working for someone who is not a member of the

In most countries more boys are involved in employ-

employees) are people who hold explicit (written or

household, or involved in any type of family work (on the

ment or the gender difference is small. However, girls

oral) or implicit employment contracts that provide

farm or in a business). Country surveys define the ages

are often more present in hidden or under-reported

basic remuneration that does not depend directly on

for child labor as 5–17. The data in the table have been

forms of employment such as domestic service, and

the revenue of the unit for which they work. • Unpaid

recalculated to present statistics for children ages 7–14.

in almost all societies girls bear greater responsibil-

family workers are people who work without pay in a

Although efforts are made to harmonize the defini-

ity for household chores in their own homes, work

market-oriented establishment operated by a related

tion of employment and the questions on employ-

that lies outside the System of National Accounts

person living in the same household.

ment in survey questionnaires, significant differ-

production boundary and is thus not considered in

ences remain in the survey instruments that collect

estimates of children’s employment.

The largest sector for child labor remains agriculture, and the majority of children work as unpaid family members Child labor by sector (% of children ages 5–17), 2004–08 Not defined Industry 7% 7%

Child labor by status in employment (% of children ages 5–17), 2004–08

Self-employment 5%

Data sources Data on children at work are estimates produced


by the Understanding Children’s Work project based on household survey data sets made avail­ able by the ILO’s International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour under its Statistical

Not defined 6%

Monitoring Programme on Child Labour, UNICEF under its Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey pro­ gram, the World Bank under its Living Standards

Service 26%

Agriculture 60%

Paid employment 21%

Measurement Study program, and national sta­ Unpaid family workers 68%

tistical offices. Information on how the data were collected and some indication of their reliability can be found at standards/ipec/simpoc/,, and Detailed country statis­

Source: Accelerating Action Against Child Labour, ILO, Geneva 2010.

tics can be found at

2011 World Development Indicators


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