This report by ILO and UNICEF provides an overview  of the latest research on social protection and child labour.

Key messages: 

  • Providing families with direct assistance can help alleviate the stressors linked to poverty and vulnerability that underlie the use of child labour.  
  • Carefully designed, social protection systems can help reduce child labour as part of an integrated set of policy measures.
  • Many countries have adopted and strengthened their social protection systems in recent years, but global coverage is still too low. 
  • Many social protection systems are not designed to cover children or informal sector work, such as smallholder farming. 
  • Further investment is needed to increase the coverage and quality of social protection, especially to fill the "financing gap" for children. This should be a political priority. 

The report recommends: 

  • The prioritisation of inclusive, universal social protection programmes, which cover children and expand to address child labour, to eliminate coverage limitations. 
  • Ensuring that social protection programmes have relevant design features to tackle child labour, ensuring for both adequacy and predictability of social protection benefits, e.g. in cash transfer programmes, considering the context such as household size, number of children, local prices and wages, and inflation.  
  • Applying child-sensitive designs that consider the potential implications of child labour, in all sectors where children work. This should be expanded to include awareness-building activities such as sensitisation on children’s rights, or the provision of information on the hazards related to child labour, in combination with positive messaging to promote education over labour. 
  • That social protection programmes are combined with complementary interventions in the education and health sectors.  
  • The development of sustainable and equitable financing for social protection systems as a matter of priority. 
  • Not to wait for development to build social protection systems, as these systems are key to development. 
  • That policymakers use existing international policy commitments to universal social protection in building political consensus for action.   
The role of social protection in the elimination of child labour: Evidence review and policy implications

The role of social protection in the elimination of child labour: Evidence review and policy implications