Worldwide Children's Statistics

Much progress for children has been achieved since the United Nations established the Millennium Development Goals in 2000. However, there are still major issues that children around the world face, including hunger, poverty, access to education and medical care. Orphaned and abandoned children are at particular risk.

Below are statistics, divided by regions, which show the scope of the problem. 

Updated April 2016

World:

Orphans

  • It is estimated that 132 million children worldwide are orphans. (UNICEF).

Child Labor

  • Worldwide, there are 168 million who are child laborers, accounting for almost 11 percent of children (ILO).

Education

  • 124 million children and adolescents are out of school (UNESCO).
  • As of the start of 2014, 1 in 11 children of primary-school age is out of school, totaling 59 million children (UNICEF).

Health

  • There are 62.8 million children worldwide who suffer from acute malnutrition (World Bank).
  • In 2014, 1 in 7 children were estimated to be underweight in less developed regions (WHO).
  • In 2014, about 16 percent—or 95 million children—of children under 5 who live in less developed regions were underweight (WHO).
  • Nearly half of all deaths in children under 5 are attributable to undernutrition. This translates into the unnecessary loss of about 3 million young lives a year (UNICEF).
  • 66 million primary school-age children attend classes hungry across the developing world, with 23 million in Africa alone (WHO).

Mortality

  • In 2015, there were about 16,000 deaths every day of children under the age of five (WHO).
  • Leading causes of death in under-5 children are preterm birth complications, pneumonia, birth asphyxia, diarrhea and malaria. About 45% of all child deaths are linked to malnutrition (WHO).
  • 2.7 million babies die every year in their first month of life and a similar number are stillborn (WHO).
  • 5.9 million children under the age of 5 died in 2015, equivalent to 11 children every minute (UNICEF).

Poverty

  • Children represent almost half of all people living in extreme poverty although they make up roughly a third of the world’s population (UNICEF).

Refugees and Migrants

  • There were 19.5 million refugees in 2015; half of them were children (UNHCR).
  • Children accounted for 27 percent of the more than 1 million refugees and migrants who entered Europe in 2015 (Europol).
  • 10,000 unaccompanied migrant children are missing in Europe (Europol)

War/Conflict

  • There are over 250 million children living in countries affected by conflict (UNICEF).
  • 1 out of every 8 babies born in the world is born into conflict (UNICEF).
  • There are 30 million children who have been forced from their homes (UNICEF).
 

Africa:

  • 1 in 12 children in sub-Saharan Africa dies before his or her fifth birthday (United Nations).
  • There are 17.6 million children in sub-Saharan Africa who suffer from acute malnutrition (World Bank).
  • Between 1990 and 2014, the number of stunted children under 5 worldwide declined from 255 million to 159 million. At the same time, numbers have increased in West and Central Africa from 19.9 million to 28.0 million (UNICEF).
  • In 2015, the risk of a child dying before reaching his or her 1st birthday was highest in Africa, 55 per 1,000 live births, which is more than five times higher than in Europe, which has a rate of 10 deaths per 1,000 live births (WHO).
  • Children in sub-Saharan Africa are more than 14 times more likely to die before the age of 5 than children in developed regions (UNICEF).
  • Pneumonia, diarrhea and malaria accounted for about 1.3 million, or about 40 percent, of under-five deaths in Sub-Saharan Africa (UNICEF).
  • In 2015, 95 percent of the estimated 306,000 deaths of children under 5 that were caused by malaria occurred in Africa (WHO).
  • Sub-Saharan Africa continues to be the region with the highest incidence of child labor at 21 percent, or 59 million children (ILO).
  • The Middle East and North Africa regions continue to show by far the highest youth unemployment rates , 28.2 and 30.5 percent, respectively, in 2014 (ILO).


Asia:

  • In 2014, 69 percent of children in the world with acute malnutrition (wasting) lived in Asia, which accounts 14.9 percent of children in the region (UNICEF).
  • India accounts for about 25 percent of the 2.7 million neonatal deaths that occur each year around the world (United Nations).
  • The Asia-Pacific region has the largest number of child laborers, 78 million, with an incidence of 9 percent (ILO).
  • Almost half of all child brides worldwide live in South Asia (UNICEF).

Latin America: 
  • 7.5 million girls are married before age 18 in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNICEF).
  • Nearly 1 in 3 girls across Latin America are married off before the age of 18. In the Dominican Republic, 41 percent of girls marry before age 18 (Girls Not Brides).
  • In Latin America and the Caribbean, 12.5 million children are engaged in child labor, representing 8 percent of all children in the region (USDOL).
  • As of Feb. 29, 2016, 23,553 unaccompanied minors have been apprehended at the U.S. border with Mexico, representing an 89 percent increase from all of 2015 (U.S. Customs and Border Protection).


United States:

  • In 2014, about 702,000 children were victims of maltreatment, which includes neglect, physical abuse and sexual abuse (U.S. Department of Health and Human).
  • In 2014, 1,546 children died from abuse and neglect, and 71 percent of these children were younger than 3 years old. More than 44 percent of children who die from abuse and neglect every year are under a year old (U.S. Department of Health and Human).
  • In 2014, 21 percent of children in the United States were living in poverty (National Center for Children in Poverty).
  • There were 415,129 children in foster care in the United States in 2014 (AFCARS).
  • In 2014, more than half of children entering U.S. foster care were young people of color (AFCARS).
  • In 2014, more than 22,000 young people aged out of foster care without permanent families. Research has shown that those who leave care without being linked to adoptive families have a higher likelihood than youth in the general population to experience homelessness, unemployment and incarceration as adults (AFCARS).