Is There a Long Child Labor History in Asia?

Millions of children are child labor victims every year; most child laborers live in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Asia has a long-lasting child labor history.

Why is child labor common in Asia?


  • Limited resources — Poverty is a significant contributor to child labor. Many countries throughout Asia experience extreme poverty that limits families’ access to food, water, shelter, education and more. Families living in poverty do not have options; many families need their children to work to survive.
  • Limited opportunities — Many adults across Asia are relegated to difficult labor in fields and factories because they do not qualify for higher-paying work or there are no better jobs in their villages or cities. Low-income jobs create financial insecurity for families. Some parents may work long hours every day and still not make enough to feed their families. Child laborers provide crucial income for impoverished families.
  • Limited education — Undereducated parents are less likely to value school or have the skills and knowledge to support their children.

What does child labor look like in Asia now?


Child labor continues to be a critical concern across Asia today. Brick kilns, fisheries, carpet weaving, cotton fields, diamond mines and many other industries employ millions of children to do back-breaking labor.1 Other countries force children to become child soldiers to fight in political conflicts. South Asian countries with the high child labor numbers include Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nepal.1 Child labor is an expansive and systemic issue throughout Asia.

Studies from UNICEF indicate there are well over 41 million child laborers throughout Asia.1 Children may work from 12 to 14 hours daily, only to bring home a meager $0.60 to $1.20 for their families.2 Child workers can experience respiratory illnesses, viral infections, physical injuries and many forms of abuse. Child laborers often do not have the time or energy to attend school. Many child laborers fall behind in school or cannot complete their education.

Every child engaged in labor misses opportunities to learn, grow and experience their childhood.

Children paying attention in GFA World child sponsorship class

How can you help? Become a child sponsor. For $35 a month, you can help children, their families and their communities break the cycle of poverty. Through your sponsorship, children feel loved, wanted, hopeful and have the opportunity to experience God’s love firsthand.

Please prayerfully consider supporting GFA’s Child Sponsorship Program!

Learn more about child labor examples

1 “Child Labour and Exploitation.” UNICEF. Accessed 27 February 2022. https://www.unicef.org/rosa/what-we-do/child-protection/child-labour-and-exploitation#:~:text=UNICEF%20estimates%2012%20percent%20of,progress%20is%20far%20too%20slow.
2 “Child Labor and Slavery in the Chocolate Industry.” Food is Power. Accessed 27 February 2022. https://foodispower.org/human-labor-slavery/slavery-chocolate/.