UNITE FOR CHILDREN-- UNICEF

Say Yes, Summer 2007: Child labour on the decline

A boy in a garage workshop

The lack of social protection and incapacity of migrant families to adapt to urban life are the main causes for child labour.
Photograph by Özbilen Keskin © UNICEF Turkey 2007

Long–awaited figures have confimed that child labour is declining, especially in rural areas. Even so, 320,000 6–14 year–olds are engaged in economic activities.

Figures released by the Turkish Statistical Institute (Turkstat) in April indicate that 958,000 children aged between 6 and 17 were engaged in some form of economic activity in 2006 — some 5.9% of the total number of children in this age group. Among children aged 6–14, 320,000, or 2.6%, were engaged in economic activity. 124,000 of these were not attending school.

The first survey on child labour for seven years shows that longer years of schooling and the declining importance of agriculture as a source of employment have caused a marked reduction in child labour. In rural areas, child labour declined by over 50% between 1999 and 2006.

Urban concern

The total number of children engaged in economic activity in urban areas fell only from 478,000 in 1999 to 457,000 in 2006. Among children aged 6–14, there was actually an increase, from 109,000 to 116,000. The numbers rose for both girls and boys.

Of the total number of working children in 2006, 392,000 children were engaged in agriculture, 271,000 in industry and 294,000 in trade and other services. Just under half of the children concerned worked as unpaid labourers on family farms, in family shops or in other family businesses. Over half earned wages. A few ran micro–businesses of their own.

Household chores

The above figures do not include children who take responsibility for domestic tasks such as cooking, washing, cleaning, shopping and the care of younger siblings. According to the 2006 survey, 53% of all girls and 33% of all boys aged 6–17 carried out household chores — higher than the figures recorded in 1999. As girls grow older they are more and more likely to find themselves doing housework. Nearly three–quarters of all girls aged 15–17 perform domestic chores, both in urban and rural areas.

Statistics on child labour are published with the support of the International Programme for the Elimination of Child Labour, an initiative of the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

Table 1: Children in work (6–14 years)
  1999 2006
Category Thousands % of cohort Thousands % of cohort
Source: Turkstat
Total 609 5.1 320 2.6
Urban 109 1.6 116 1.5
Rural 500 9.6 205 4.1
Girls 269 4.6 113 1.8
Urban 28 0.8 31 0.8
Rural 241 9.5 82 3.3
Boys 340 5.6 207 3.3
Urban 81 2.4 85 2.2
Rural 259 9.7 123 2.2
Table 2: Children in work (15–17 years)
  1999 2006
Category Thousands % of cohort Thousands % of cohort
Source: Turkstat
Total 1,021 26.3 638 16.9
Urban 369 16.2 341 14.2
Rural 652 40.7 297 21.4
Girls 406 21.2 213 11.3
Urban 88 8.1 89 7.9
Rural 318 38.1 124 16.6
Boys 615 31.3 425 22.3
Urban 281 23.4 252 19.9
Rural 334 43.5 173 27.1
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