Statistics and indicators on forced labour and trafficking

The ILO is initiating a global research programme to take stock of national and international initiatives measuring forced labour, human trafficking and slavery, to discuss strengths and limitations of existing methodologies and build a consensus on concepts, statistical definitions and standard list of criteria, survey tools and estimation methodologies which could be used to develop surveys in the future.
ILO Data Initiative on Modern Slavery

What the data show

Nearly 21 million people - Three out of every 1,000 people worldwide - are victims of forced labour across the world, trapped in jobs which they were coerced or deceived into and which they cannot leave.

  • The Asia-Pacific region accounts for the largest number of forced labourers in the world – 11.7 million (56 per cent) of the global total, followed by Africa at 3.7 million (18 per cent) and Latin America with 1.8 million victims (9 per cent).
  • The number of victims per thousand inhabitants is highest in the central and south-eastern Europe and Africa regions at 4.2 and 4.0 per 1,000 inhabitants respectively. It is the lowest in the Developed Economies and European Union at 1.5 per 1,000 inhabitants.
  • The relatively high prevalence in central and south-eastern Europe and Commonwealth of Independent States can be explained by the fact that the population is much lower than for example in Asia and at the same time reports of trafficking for labour and sexual exploitation and of state-imposed forced labour in the region are numerous.
  • The Developed Economies and European Union have 1.5 million (7 per cent) forced labourers.
  • Central and south-eastern European countries, and the Commonwealth of Independent States account for 1.6 million (7 per cent).
  • There are an estimated 600,000 (3 per cent) victims in the Middle East.

Typology of forced labour

  • 18.7 million (90 %) are exploited in the private economy, by individuals or enterprises. Of these, 4.5 million (22 per cent) are victims of forced sexual exploitation and 14.2 million (68 per cent) are victims of forced labour exploitation in economic activities, such as agriculture, construction, domestic work or manufacturing.
  • 2.2 million (10%) are in state-imposed forms of forced labour, for example in prisons, or in work imposed by the state military or by rebel armed forces.

Profile of the victims

  • 5.5 million (26 %) are below 18 years.
  • 9.1 million victims (44 %) who have moved either internally or internationally. The majority, 11.8 million (56 %), are subjected to forced labour in their place of origin or residence. Cross-border movement is heavily associated with forced sexual exploitation.


Profits of forced labour