Date Thesis Awarded


Access Type

Honors Thesis -- Access Restricted On-Campus Only

Degree Name

Bachelors of Arts (BA)


International Relations


Philip Roessler

Committee Members

Maurits van der Veen

Admasu Shiferaw


The global lack of birth registration has denied 230 million children their right to a legal identity, hindered government provision of services, and distorted measurements of development indicators. Low national birth registration rates are caused by centralized civil registration systems, costly and distant birth registration processes, a lack of public awareness, and little political commitment from governments to fix the issue. I used a large-N fixed effects panel regression analysis to determine why some countries have higher birth registration rates than others and why national rates improve. The significant variables of the quantitative analysis were the urban population rate and the rate of births attended by skilled staff. I then used a methodology called process tracing to analyze causal effects of changes in birth registration. I find that government initiatives with international support developed civil registration systems, allowing for improved birth registration, and efforts to increase the rate of births attended by skilled staff likely enhanced the effect of these initiatives. I hypothesize that birth registration initiatives likely result from countries wanting to signal good governance once international funding is available. Using original field research, I provide a case study of Tanzania’s implementation of a mobile birth registration system. I conclude that countries increase birth registration rates after implementing initiatives with international support, an effect strengthened by an effective health system. Governments and international organizations should continue to partner to improve civil registration and health systems.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.


I would like the creative license Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs
CC BY-NC-ND, which says, "This license is the most restrictive of our six main licenses, only allowing others to download your works and share them with others as long as they credit you, but they can’t change them in any way or use them commercially."

On-Campus Access Only