Identification for Development: The Biometrics Revolution

Organization(s): Center for Global Development
Author: Alan Gelb, Julia Clark
Regions: World
Year: 2013
Language: English

This paper surveys 160 cases where biometric identification has been used for economic, political, and social purposes in developing countries. About half of these cases have been supported by donors. Recognizing the need for more rigorous assessments and more open data on performance, the paper draws some conclusions about identification and development and the use of biometric technology. Some cases suggest large returns to its use, with potential gains in inclusion, efficiency, and governance. In others, costly technology has been ineffective or, combined with the formalization of identity, has increased the risk of exclusion.

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