The United Nations estimates that, as of 2012, there were roughly 168 million child laborers worldwide, 85 million of whom were working in conditions it deemed hazardous. The U.N. defines child labor as the employment of children under the age of 17. About one-third, or 78 million, of all child laborers are in the Asia/Pacific region, with 59 million in Sub-Saharan Africa, 13 million in Latin America and the Caribbean, and nine million in the Middle East and North Africa.
Of the children engaged in work, the highest proportion are in Sub-Saharan Africa, where about 21 percent of children are employed in some way. In the Asia/Pacific region, the rate is 9.3 percent, while in Latin America and the Caribbean, it is 10 percent. Eight percent of children in the Middle East and North Africa are employed.
Most children who work are involved with agriculture, followed by the service sector, industry and other types of employment. The vast majority of these children work for and with their families and are unpaid, or they are members of the informal economy.
Between 2000 and 2010, the worldwide rate of child labor decreased from 246 million to 168 million. The number of girls who were employed declined by 40 percent during this time, and the number of boys employed decreased by 25 percent.