These Maps Reveal the Secret World of Modern Slavery
Tens of millions of people are in slavery around the world, and lots of them live in your country. That’s according to the 2018 Global Slavery Index, a detailed analysis of modern human trafficking and slavery around the world from the Walk Free Foundation.
We’re quick to point out that hundreds of thousands of people are trapped in slavery throughout the West. In fact, several Eastern European countries have lower overall numbers than Spain, France, England and Germany. A number of countries in Africa and South America have a better track record than the U.S.
It’s worth pausing to clarify the methodology used to gather these numbers. First of all, slavery can be difficult to define, and researchers used a few different concepts, including forced marriage, bondage, indentured servitude and human trafficking. If people are being treated like property, it’s slavery.
How did researchers arrive at total numbers encompassing all these activities for so many countries? They administered a survey to 71,000 respondents across 48 countries. They then extrapolated results for other countries with similar risk profiles. These are some of the best and most widely reported numbers available even if some governments and scholars disagree with the findings. You can read more about the study’s methodology here.
The Walk Free Foundation finds that North Korea is the global capital of human slavery, affecting an estimated 105 out of every 1,000 people. Eritrea has the second highest rate at 93. The extent of human tragedy in these places is truly astonishing.
Focusing on per capita enslavement also reveals how Central Africa and the Middle East have proportionally more significant problems than surrounding regions. China falls off the list of worst offenders, and no country in Western Europe has a rate higher than 5 out of 1,000 people. Venezuela and Haiti are the only countries in the entire Western Hemisphere shaded dark red.
We’re clearly onto something even if the correlation between GDP per capita and enslavement isn’t perfect. It’s not like countries just need to grow their economies and slavery will simply vanish. In fact, the U.S. has more people in slavery than Mexico (403K vs. 341K). Germany has a higher number than Belarus (167K vs. 103K). This suggests that countries must tackle the issue head on in addition to pursuing economic development.
Data: Table 1.1