Increase In Hazardous Child Labor In Cocoa Production Amid An Expansion Of Cocoa Farming In Cote D’ivoire And Ghana

Despite an increase between 2008-09 and 2018-19, data from the last five years (2015-19) suggest interventions to reduce hazardous child labor practices may be working

CHICAGO, Oct. 19, 2020 – A new report from NORC at the University of Chicago finds that children engaged in hazardous child labor in cocoa production in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana cocoa growing regions increased by 13 percentage points over a 10-year period (from 2008-09 to 2018-19). The increase coincides with a 62 percent growth in cocoa production across the two countries. However, researchers found no such increase in hazardous child labor in cocoa production when looking at the recent trend between 2013-14 and 2018-19 among cocoa growing households in each country. Due to methodological concerns, no comparison of population counts can be made with previous survey rounds as detailed in the report.

For children living in agricultural households, hazardous child labor in cocoa production includes the use of sharp tools, undertaking land clearing activities, working long hours or at night, and exposure to agro-chemical products.

According to the report, while cocoa production increased 14 percent in the two countries between 2013-14 and 2018-19, researchers found no statistically significant increase in hazardous child labor in each country. Researchers note that the five-year trend may indicate the effect of interventions targeted at reducing hazardous child labor, such as school construction, education and vocational training, provision of livelihood services, and awareness campaigns. Researchers believe the findings from the study can inform future interventions to reduce hazardous child labor rates.

“As the overall production of cocoa increased dramatically, cocoa farming spread into areas of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana where infrastructure to monitor child labor was weak and awareness of laws regulating it was low,” said Kareem Kysia, director of vulnerable populations research at NORC at the University of Chicago and a lead author of the report. “Interventions to stem hazardous child labor in the cocoa sector should target new, emerging areas of production and focus on efforts to reduce exposure to the component parts of hazardous child labor.”

NORC at the University of Chicago worked with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs, the governments of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, the World Cocoa Foundation, civil society organizations, and multiple international organizations with an interest in child labor to produce the report.

Funding for this report was provided by the U.S. Department of Labor under Cooperative Agreement number IL-28104-15-75-K-17. One hundred percent of the total costs of the project or program is financed with federal funds, for a total of $3,458,681.00 dollars. The statements found in the report do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Department of Labor, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. government.


NOTE: See the full report at Assessing Progress in Reducing Child Labor in Cocoa Production in Cocoa Growing Areas of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana

CONTACT: To speak with a researcher, please contact Frank Walsh at 202-697-2029 or or Eric Young at (703) 217-6814 or

About NORC at the University of Chicago

NORC at the University of Chicago is an objective, non-partisan research institution that delivers reliable data and rigorous analysis to guide critical programmatic, business, and policy decisions. Since 1941, NORC has conducted groundbreaking studies, created and applied innovative methods and tools, and advanced principles of scientific integrity and collaboration. Today, government, corporate, and nonprofit clients around the world partner with NORC to transform increasingly complex information into useful knowledge.