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Forced Labour and Human trafficking: Estimating the Profits

As part of SAP-FL research on the quantitative and economic dimensions of forced labour and human trafficking, this Paper aims to estimate the magnitude of global profits that are being realized through the exploitation of forced labourers.

Type: Working paper
Date issued: 03 January 2005
Reference: 92-2-117304-6[ISBN]
Authors: Patrick Belser

The paper’s main estimate is that global profits made from forced labourers exploited by private enterprises or agents reach US$ 44.3 billion every year, of which US$ 31.6 billion from trafficked victims. The largest profits - more than US$ 15 billion - are made from people trafficked and forced to work in industrialized countries. These figures show that profits are possibly much larger than has so far been recognized in the estimates of other national or international organizations. They also support the view that trafficking thrives because it is lucrative and that policy measures to combat this scourge must include the confiscation of the financial assets of those involved in trafficking across or within borders.

Tags: forced labour, trafficking in persons

Regions and countries covered: Global

Unit responsible: Programme for the Promotion of the Declaration

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Forced Labour and Human trafficking: Estimating the Profits


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