Journal Article
Identity Documents, Welfare Enhancement, and Group Empowerment in the Global South

Having a birth certificate is a stepping stone to acquiring an array of rights and benefits, including other documents necessary to navigate in and outside of one’s home country. Despite a birth certificate’s importance, many children in the developing world never obtain one. Whether a person does so or not often depends on ethnicity, race, gender, and age.

With the rights of individuals as well as groups in mind, this article examines some of the crucial causes and consequences of not acquiring this key document. It concludes that legal empowerment matters. It also underscores what governments can do, if political will exists, to facilitate the process of birth registration and certification among citizens.

Journal Article This peer-reviewed research is available free of charge. UNU-WIDER believes that research is a global public good and supports Open Access.