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Children and COVID-19 Research Library

UNICEF Innocenti's curated library of COVID-19 + Children research

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Child labour: global estimates 2020, trends and the road forward
Institution: *UNICEF, International Labour Organization
Published: June 2021

The latest global estimates indicate that the number of children in child labour has risen to 160 million worldwide – an increase of 8.4 million children in the last four years. 63 million girls and 97 million boys were in child labour globally at the beginning of 2020, accounting for almost 1 in 10 of all children worldwide. This report warns that global progress to end child labour has stalled for the first time in 20 years. The number of children aged 5 to 17 years in hazardous work – defined as work that is likely to harm their health, safety or morals – has risen by 6.5 million to 79 million since 2016. In sub-Saharan Africa, population growth, extreme poverty, and inadequate social protection measures have led to an additional 16.6 million children in child labour over the past four years. Additional economic shocks and school closures caused by COVID-19 mean that children already in child labour may be working longer hours or under worsening conditions, while many more may be forced into the worst forms of child labour due to job and income losses among vulnerable families. The report warns that globally 9 million additional children are at risk of being pushed into child labour by the end of 2022 as a result of the pandemic. Children in child labour are at risk of physical and mental harm. Child labour compromises children’s education, restricting their rights and limiting their future opportunities, and leads to vicious inter-generational cycles of poverty and child labour.

Reshmi Prabhu (12) in a cotton field in Karnatarka, India. She previously worked in the fields before being enrolled in school for the first time this year. 
COVID-19 and Child Labour: A time of crisis, a time to act
Institution: *UNICEF, International Labour Organisation
Published: June 2020 UNICEF Publication
Recent years have seen significant progress in the fight against child labour. The current COVID-19 pandemic, however, can potentially reverse the positive trends observed in several countries and further aggravate the problem in regions where child labour has been more resistant to policy and programme measures.
The level of global economic integration and the current crisis are likely to have a large and possibly lasting worldwide adverse socio-economic and financial impact. The pandemic is increasing economic insecurity causing disruptions in supply chains, falling commodity prices, in particular oil, and halting the manufacturing industry. The financial markets have been particularly affected, tightening liquidity conditions in many countries and creating unprecedented outflows of capital in many economies.
The paper discusses the main channels through which the current pandemic can influence child labour, including fall in living standards; deteriorating employment opportunities; rise in informality; reduction in remittances and migration; contraction of trade and foreign direct investment; temporary school closures; health shocks; pressure on public budgets and international aid flows.
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UNICEF Innocenti's Children and COVID-19 Library is a database collecting research from around the world on COVID-19 and its impacts on children and adolescents.

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COVID-19 & Children: Rapid Research Response

UNICEF Innocenti is mobilizing a rapid research response in line with UNICEF’s global response to the COVID-19 crisis. The initiatives we’ve begun will provide the broad range of evidence needed to inform our work to scale up rapid assessment, develop urgent mitigating strategies in programming and advocacy, and preparation of interventions to respond to the medium and longer-term consequences of the COVID-19 crisis. The research projects cover a rapid review of evidence, education analysis, and social and economic policies.