Data on the prevalence of the worst forms of child labour

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Helpdesk Query:

What data do we have about the prevalence of the worst forms of child labour?

How robust are the data and what are the limitations of existing data sets?


This rapid review synthesises findings from rigorous academic, practitioner, and policy references published in the past fifteen years that discuss the prevalence of the worst forms of child labour.

Globally, children are routinely engaged in paid and unpaid forms of work that are considered not harmful to them. They are classified as child labourers when they are either too young to work or are involved in hazardous activities that may compromise their physical, mental, social or educational development. According to the International Labour Organisation (IPEC, 2013: 7) the term “child labour” is a subset of “children in employment”, it includes all children in employment 5-11 years of age; excludes those in the 12-14 year age group engaged in “permissible light work”; and, from among the 15-17-year-olds, includes only those in hazardous work or other worst forms of child labour.

The issue of child labour is guided by three international conventions: the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention No. 1382 concerning minimum age for admission to employment and Recommendation No. 146 (1973)3; ILO Convention No. 1824 concerning the prohibition and immediate action for the elimination of the worst forms of child labour and Recommendation No.
190 (1999)5; and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child6. These conventions frame the concept of child labour and form the basis for child labour legislation enacted by countries that are signatories.

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