IOM, ILO, and the Secretariat for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation present new study on migration and child labor in Honduras

27 June, 2019


As part of World Day Against Child Labor (June 12), the Secretariat of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (SRECI), the International Labor Organization (ILO), and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) presented the study “Migration and Child Labor – Honduras 2019” in San Pedro Sula.

This study provides information about unaccompanied migrant children who have returned to Honduras, their families, and their relationship with child labor. The results give a clearer view of the situation in order to assist humanitarian management and the development of knowledge-based public policies.

“We are calling on the State, society, and the Honduran family to work together for the complete fulfillment of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, with special emphasis on migrant children and adolescents. It is imperative that – in each of the decisions we make – we prioritize eradicating child exploitation, minimizing the risks of irregular migration, and completely restoring the fundamental rights of the youngest migrants. In this way, we will contribute to the development of the country to everyone's benefit,” said the Chief of Mission for El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, Jorge Peraza Breedy.

One of the principal findings of the study was that a majority of unaccompanied migrant children who have returned to Honduras are adolescents between the ages of 13 and 17 (88%) and that 75% are boys. It also shows that the primary destinations were the United States and Mexico. Additionally, surveys were able to identify the departments of origin with the highest percentages of returned migrant children from Cortés, Francisco Morazán, and Yoro.

In terms of child labor, this study shows that approximately 404,000 children and adolescents work in Honduras. 68.5% of returned migrant children had a paid job before migrating, and on average they worked 34.8 hours per week. The sector with the highest percentage of child laborers was agriculture, where primarily boys were involved (57% of all working boys) while 28% of all working girls performed domestic work.

While migration is linked to multi-causal factors such as job search, better quality of life, family reunification, and improved safety, 57% of the migrant children who worked before their journey migrated for job reasons, whereas 27% who did not work before their journey migrated for job reasons. Thus, the study suggests that the probability that a child has migrated for job reasons is greater if he or she has performed child labor previously. 

One of the most concerning characteristics of returned migrant children who worked before leaving is that 82% had not completed the expected level of education, while those who had not worked were at the expected level.

Additionally, the study looks at migrant children who had an unpaid job before migrating. It shows that 61% performed unpaid work for their families, working an average of 8.6 hours per week. Unlike migrant children who did paid work, the greatest percentage of this group performed domestic work (87% of girls and 73% of boys).

An interesting statistic to highlight is that girls were more likely to migrate for work when they had not done unpaid work previously, in comparison with those who had performed unpaid work.

With the new data collected in this study, Honduras has a new, useful, first-hand evidence to improve its assistance policies for reintegrating migrant children. The information can help to prevent the irregular migration of children and adolescents from the country.

This study was printed with financing from IOM’s Regional Migration Program (Mesoamerica Program), financed by the Department of State of the United States. For more information, contact Melanie Gómez, national coordinator of the Program in Honduras, at

To see the report on results and learn more the study, go to [Spanish]