Forced Labour: Definition, Indicators and Measurement

This paper represents a first step to estimate the global magnitude of forced labour. It describes the various forms of forced labour in existence, reviews available indicators of forced labour, summarises and discusses some methods that have been used for measurement, and provides some guidance for future work on the subject.

This paper reflects an early stage of SAP-FL efforts to measure forced labour. Since that time, a research team under the supervision of SAP-FL economist Patrick Belser has now embarked on a new global estimate, which aims to generate benchmark figures on the minimum worldwide scale of the main forms of forced labour. A large and expanding database now contains more than 5,000 valid entries, with information on the number and gender of victims, the means of their enslavement, the economic sector where forced labour is imposed, and the levels if any of payment. As of mid 2004 the information had been collected from over 1,700 different sources, strongly reinforcing the knowledge base on different forms of forced labour. The final estimate has provided separate numbers for forced labour exacted by state authorities and private agents, respectively. The results are published in the Gobal Report of the ILO Director General on forced labour in 2005.