I see so munch information around cocoa production, and there are so many NGO and government initiative around Child labor in cocoa production and chocolate making. Is there any credible source where I can find that data by nation?

Edit - This question was asked by students on TuvaLabs, part of the question

Which countries produce chocolate? Is child labor involved in all chocolate production?

Here, when it says chocolate, I think we can take cocoa production (agriculture).

As I mentioned before there are so many places where you can find the information about cocoa production (http://faostat.fao.org/), and child labor in general from UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, but not specifically involved in cocoa production for those countries.

  • What a great question! This highlights the need for lots of data, and is originally from a student looking for some help. Let's help find this data Stack Exchange Team! Commented Feb 22, 2014 at 17:04

1 Answer 1


Great question!

I'll assume a dataset doesn't exist because it makes the creation of a data-story more interesting.

Here are some steps that I would take to collect the data and start to analyze it. Remember, a question is needed before we can ask the data for answers. For that reason, I'll make up the question: "Do cocoa producers have higher rates of child labors than other agricultural exporting countries?"

  1. I would do some background reading. Wikipedia has a section about cocao and child labor. From this reading I learn that Ivory Coast has approx 200,000 child laborers in the cocao industry (wow). From this article and other I'll start by making a list of cocoa producing countries.

  2. I would then make a spreadsheet with rows for each cocao producing countries and columns for data like population, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita, amount of cocao exported, amounts of total agricultural exports, etc. CIA World Factbook is one way to collect data, although it doesn't break down exports as percents of GDP, or of a total amount. I'd have to dig more for a more detailed data source.

  3. Now that I have columns of economic data, I would add columns for child labor statistics for those countries. There may exist a database but you can also manually collect data for the 10-15 countries that are cocoa producers. Here is the data for Ivory Coast. Wow, 35% child labor between ages 5 and 14 (definitions).

  4. Now comes the fun part - playing with the data. Scatter plots are easy and a great way to explore data (see the image blow). For this concept, I would start with the econonic indicators (best option is "cocoa production as percentage of agricultural exports") of each country on the x-axis and the child labor stats on the y-axis. In this case, maybe I'll find that countries that have more cocoa (large x) also have high percentages of child labor (large y). In that case, maybe the scatter plot shows a linear relationship (correlation). I don't expect my first guess to be the final product, but I start to get a feeling for the data. I have to understand the data, for example, when comparing countries, it's often the case that I have to normalize by population (per capita).

  5. Now that I'm familiar with the data, I should probably clean things up. This may mean including other agricultural countries that don't have cocoa production as a comparison. Now my scatter plots have two colors. Do these countries also have high child labor rates? Are there outliers (cocoa exporting countries without high rates of child labor)? Ask I ask these questions, it becomes essential to collect other data. And the process continues until I can pull the data together and tell a story.

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  • This is certainly a very nice and structured approach, way to go! Keep in mind, however, that cocoa producers are most likely low-tech agricultural producers, and thus likely of having higher child-labor rates than other more technically developed ones, even if still agricultural ones (a measure of development, whatever it is, could help here). One addition to@philshem is to understand the process: desk-produced studies are called to remain there: on desks.
    – PavoDive
    Commented Mar 27, 2015 at 17:44

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