From 360,000 to 400,000 children between the ages of 7 and 14 work in Italy, according to research carried out by Italy's largest trade union federation, the CGIL. The children earn between 200 and 500 a month and 17,5 per cent of them work between four and eight hours a day. Istat, the national statistics agency, puts the numbers of child labourers at 144,000, but does include immigrant children in its figures.

The sort of work covered in the research includes looking after young siblings and working in family-run businesses, as well as precarious work on the streets, such as washing car windscreens and headlamps. Compulsory schooling in Italy is from the age of 6 to 14. The research in the Rome area indicated that out of 23,244 school-age immigrant children only 8,785 are registered in the city's schools.