Decent Work in the Philippines: Statistics on Working Children (3rd of a Series on Decent Work Statistics)

Reference Number: 


Release Date: 

Thursday, April 25, 2019


          The International Labor Organization (ILO) in its advocacy to promote the Decent Work Agenda describes decent work as “integral efforts to reduce poverty and is a key mechanism for achieving equitable, inclusive and sustainable development.  Decent work involves opportunities for work that is productive and delivers a fair income, provides security in the workplace and social protection for workers and their families, and gives people the freedom to express their concerns, to organize and to participate in decisions that affect their lives”. (ILO, Country Profile, 2012, Preface)
         The statistical measurement framework on decent work as approved by the ILO and as adopted by the Philippines, covers ten (10) substantive elements corresponding to the four (4) strategic pillars of the Decent Work Agenda, namely: (1) employment opportunities; (2) adequate earnings and productive work; (3) decent hours; (4) combining work, family and personal life; (5) work that should be abolished; (6) stability and security of work; (7) equal opportunity and treatment in employment; (8) safe work environment; (9) social security; and, (10) social dialogue, workers’ and employers’ representation. These elements of decent work were analyzed in the economic and social context to help determine what constitute decency in society as well as the extent to which the achievement of decent work enhances national economic, social and labor market performance. (ILO, Country Profile, 2012)

           This issue of LABSTAT Updates presents statistics on another element of decent work on “Work That Should Be Abolished”, which according to international conventions involves child labor and forced labor. This issue will basically highlight statistics on working children as a proxy indicator to child labor statistics.  Specifically, working children statistics from 2007 to 2017 will be presented to get a glimpse on the profile of working children in the country. With no available data yet on forced labor, alternative statistics pertaining to Anti-Trafficking in Persons may be referred to the March 2019 LABSTAT Updates issue on “Adopted Resolutions Concerning Statistics on Labor Rights Statistics on Child Labor During the 20th International Conference of Labor Statisticians (ICLS)”. 

            The Labor Force Survey (LFS) of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) is the major source of data used in this report. Related tables and metadata can be downloaded at the PSA OpenSTAT website at


Work That Should Be Abolished

  • According to international conventions adopted by the International Labor Organization (ILO), there are two forms of unacceptable employment that need to be abolished - child labor and forced labor. Based on the country’s national definition, child labor  refers  to  any work performed by a child that subjects him/her to any form of exploitation or  is  harmful  to his/her health and safety or physical, mental or psycho-social  development (Department  of  Labor and Employment Exec. Order No.65-04).
  • Force labor, on the other hand, refers to the extraction of work or services by means of enticement, violence or coercion, including deprivation of freedom, abuse of authority or moral ascendancy, debt-bondage or deception (Republic Act No. 9208).

Ratified ILO Conventions and Philippine Legislations on Child Labor and Forced Labor

  • Some of the ILO conventions on child labor and forced labor ratified by the country include the following: (1) Abolition of Forced Labour Convention, 1057 (No. 105); (2) Minimum Age for Employment Convention, 1973 (No. 138); and (3) Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999 (No. 182).
  • In support of these ILO conventions and basic State policies, the following legislations on child labor and forced labor had been enacted: (1) RA No. 7610 or “Special Protection of Children Against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act”; (2) RA No. 7658  or Prohibiting the Employment of Children Below 15 Years Old in Public and Private Undertakings) or An Act Amending Sec. 12 of RA 7610 (on Child Employment); and (3) RA 9231 or Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor and Affording Stronger Protection for the Woking Child.
  • Concurrently, the Philippine Revised Penal Code contains several provisions that criminalizes slavery (Art. 272); exploitation of child labor (At. 273); and services rendered under compulsion in payment of debt (Art. 274).

Statistics on Child Labor/Working Children

  • To date, there are only three (3) existing surveys conducted on working children in the country done in 1995, 2001 and 2011. Unfortunately, these surveys are still inadequate to capture the extent of child labor in the country. But with the recently adopted ILO Resolution to Amend the 18th International Conference of Labour Statisticians (ICLS) Resolution Concerning
  • Statistics of Child Labour during the 20th ICLS held last October 2018, the generation of child labor statistics is expected to be operationalized soon.
  • For purposes of providing inputs to identify the profile and extent of child labor in the country, pending the finalization of the official definition of child labor applicable to the country’s existing set-up that will generate official estimates on child labor, statistics on working children were used as a proxy indicator in the foregoing presentations.




Household Population of Children: 2007-2017

  • The total household population of children in the country generally follows an increasing trend from 2007 to 2017. From 28.013 million in 2007, the household population of children grew by 4.9 percent to reach 29.398 million in 2017.
  • By age group, four out of every 10 children in 2017 were aged 5-9 years old (38.9%) and 10-14 years old (38.4%). One-fifth (22.6%) of total children nationwide were aged 15-17 years old.
  • By sex, boys made up a little over half of total children during the period under review, the share of which increased slightly from 50.8 percent in 2007 to 51.4 percent in 2017. Conversely, the share of girls slightly dwindled to 48.5 percent in 2017 from 49.2 percent in 2007.

Working Children:  2007-2017

  • The occurrence of working children in the country improved over the years as its count drastically dropped by 42.0  percent  from  2.316  million in 2007 to 1.344   million   in   2017. Classified by age group, working children with 5-9 years of age dropped the most at 52.5 percent (from 120,000 to 57,000),  followed by those in the 10-14 age group at 47.0 percent (742.000 vs. 393,000) and 15-17 age group with 38.5 percent (1.454 million vs. 894,000). 
  • Meanwhile, the share of working boys to total working children grew from 63.2 percent in 2007 to 67.5 percent in 2017. On the other hand, the share of working girls to total declined from 36.9 percent in 2007 to 32.4 percent in 2017.

Economic Activity Rate of Children: 2007-2017

  • The economic activity rate of children computed as the proportion of working children to total population of children in the country followed a generally declining trend from 2007 to 2017. From 8.3 percent  in 2007, the economic activity rate of children registered its peak of 8.5 percent in 2011 which continuously declined over time to reach its lowest share of 4.6 percent in 2017. (Figure 1)


Figure 1



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