The global number of child laborers has fallen by a third since 2000, according to a new report from the International Labor Organization, but last year there were still nearly 168 million child laborers worldwide, including more than 85 million engaged in hazardous work.

The ILO defines “child labor” as all work done by children younger than 12; work done by 12-to-14-year-olds for 14 or more hours a week; and all work done by children younger than 18 in hazardous industries, occupations or working conditions, or for long hours.

About 59% of the world’s child laborers are boys, according to the ILO. An estimated 77.7 million child laborers lived in the Asia-Pacific region, with 59 million more in sub-Saharan Africa. However, sub-Saharan Africa had the highest rate of child labor: More than one-in-five (21.4%) of children aged 5 to 17 were engaged in child labor, and 10.4% of the region’s children were engaged in hazardous work.


Drew DeSilver  is a senior writer at Pew Research Center.