Human Rights and Civil Society · Transparency & accountability

A total of 3 million minors work in Mexico; 1.2 million of them are exploited

In Mexico there is an estimated 3 million minors working with 1.2 million of those children being exploited. The overall total number has decreased from 3.6 to 3 million since 2007. Despite the decline in numbers, the issue persists. Margarita Zaval, the First Lady of Mexico and president of the National System for Integral Family Development (Sistema Nacional para el Desarrollo Integral de la Familia – SNDIF), has stated, “No doubt: There is exploitation.”

Zaval went on to say that most, if not all of the minors, don’t have much choice but to work; and that it is a sign of poverty and inequality that needs to be addressed. Recent studies indicate that 80% of the children working earn less than half minimum wage. Most of their parents have little education and work in either the commercial or agricultural business.

Nearly 29% of the children work to provide financial support for their homes; almost 24% work to help pay their school fees as well as personal spending; and about 21% of the children work to gain experience. The rest list no specific cause.

With the reform in Labor Law, the current administration is looking to penalize more severely the workplaces that hire minors. Jalisco, Veracruz, Guanajuato, Guerrerro, Puebla, Michoacán, Chiapas, and Mexico D.F. are the leading states with the highest amount of underage workers.


Pérez, Jorge Ramos. “Hay 1.2 millones de niños explotados.” El Universal. 14 July, 2010.

Zúñiga, Juan Antonio. “Trabajan en Mexico 3 millones de niños y niñas de 5 a 17 años.” La Jornada. 14 July, 2010.

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