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Travelling the Distance: A GPS-Based Study of the Access to Birth Registration Services in Latin America and the Caribbean

  • Ana Corbacho
  • Rene Osorio Rivas

Birth registration is essential to guarantee a child's right to an identity. Without proper documentation of their identity, children have limited access to health, education and social assistance, laying the foundation for lifelong exclusion. Geographic distance to registration facilities is often cited as a significant barrier in qualitative surveys. Using Global Positioning System (GPS) data, this paper quantifies the impact of distance on birth registration in Bolivia, the Dominican Republic and Peru. The results suggest that increasing the distance to the nearest registry office by 25 kilometers is associated with a 4 percentage point increase in the probability of not registering a child's birth in Bolivia, and 12 percentage points in the Dominican Republic. These effects are as or more important than other socioeconomic characteristics that also affect birth registration, such as maternal education levels and the ability to deliver in a health center. In Peru, distance did not appear to be statistically significant, in line with both the lowest percentage of unregistered births and more even geographic distribution of access to civil registries than Bolivia and the Dominican Republic.

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Paper provided by Inter-American Development Bank in its series IDB Publications (Working Papers) with number 64458.

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Date of creation: Mar 2012
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Handle: RePEc:idb:brikps:64458
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  1. Conley, T.G. & Udry, C.R., 2000. "Learning about a New Technology: Pineapple in Ghana," Papers 817, Yale - Economic Growth Center.
  2. Suzanne Duryea & Analía Olgiati & Leslie Stone, 2006. "The Under-Registration of Births in Latin America," Research Department Publications 4443, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
  3. Marianne Bertrand & Sendhil Mullainathan & Eldar Shafir, 2004. "A Behavioral-Economics View of Poverty," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(2), pages 419-423, May.
  4. John Gibson & David McKenzie, 2007. "Using the Global Positioning System (GPS) in Household Surveys For Better Economics and Better Policy," Working Papers in Economics 07/04, University of Waikato, Department of Economics.
  5. Rosero-Bixby, Luis, 2004. "Spatial access to health care in Costa Rica and its equity: a GIS-based study," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 58(7), pages 1271-1284, April.
  6. McKenzie, David & Sakho, Yaye Seynabou, 2007. "Does it pay firms to register for taxes ? the impact of formality on firm profitability," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4449, The World Bank.
  7. Edwards, Alejandra Cox & Ureta, Manuelita, 2003. "International migration, remittances, and schooling: evidence from El Salvador," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(2), pages 429-461, December.
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