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Global estimate for people without ID reduced to 850M: ID4D report

Global estimate for people without ID reduced to 850M: ID4D report

Identification for Development (ID4D), the World Bank division devoted to identity projects, has completed an extensive update to its dataset from 2021 to 2022 and revised down the estimate for the number of people worldwide without “official proof of identity” from just under a billion in 2018 to just under 850 million in 2021.

The data reveals further detail on who and where these people are, but changes to methodology and data sources mean it is not as simple as 150 million or so people being issued ID in the three years between estimates.

ID4D presents the updates in its 2022 Annual Report (PDF), which also covers news on its many projects around the world as well as welfare payment projects via the G2Px sister scheme. ID4D is now working with 57 countries helping to design and implement ID and civil registration, with US$2 billion in funding across 47 countries.

The World Bank uses the term “official” ID which includes both legal ID which provides proof of legal identity and functional ID which is required for a specific purpose such as voting or social security.

850 million: barriers and breakdowns

The full ID4D Global Dataset (PDF) has been updated, has new methodology and is enriched with new sources such as a data from the ID4D-Findex survey on ID ownership in 129 countries. The overall dataset covers 194 countries.

Most live in low-income and lower-middle-income countries (LIC, LMIC) and more than half are children whose births have not been registered. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 16.9 includes birth registrations as a marker in its aim for legal identity for all by 2030. Biometric Update’s ID16.9 Podcast explores the issues around progress towards this SDG.

Fifty-six percent of people in sub-Saharan Africa – 472 million – are without ID compared to 0.1 percent in North America.

The gender gap persists. Overall, women are 8 percentage points less likely to have and ID, thought there have been significant improvements in many countries between 2017 and 2021. Afghanistan went from a percentage point difference of 45.8 to 21.8. Togo from 16.1 to 8.9. However, in Côte d’Ivoire the gap widened from 1.2 to 8; in Pakistan from 17.6 to 21.6.

Other vulnerable groups continue to be less likely to have official ID: those with only primary schooling, those in rural areas, the poor and the young – under 25 years old.

The report contains results from questions as to why individuals do not have ID. The results range from around 29 percent feeling they do not need it, to 40 percent stating the journeys to acquire it are too long (44 percent in LICs). Worldwide, 39 percent state not having the appropriate papers to get the ID (46 percent in LICs), and 36 percent worldwide say it is too expensive (40 percent in LICs). Fewer than 18 percent anywhere state feeling uncomfortable around the ID as a reason.

157 million new enrollments

While it is not a simple as to say overall that 150 million more people have been issued with ID bringing the total down from a billion to 850 million, repeat surveys in 124 countries coincidentally did reveal a reduction in people without ID – of around 157 million

Around 100 million of this represents higher birth registration rates for children, and about 50 million from increased ID coverage rates for adults.

“However, most of this 157 million difference is the result of big leaps forward in either ID ownership or birth registration in a handful of larger countries,” notes the report, mentioning India’s progress.

“Of the 124 countries with the same data metric in both years, coverage improved in 73 but decreased in 38,” states the report, citing reporting delays and issues with incomplete information. “However, it provides an indication that while not every country has made progress, global ID coverage has increased in the last 5 years, likely on the order of 100 to 200 million.”

Opportunities missed

Surveys also captured data on the impact of not having official ID. Worldwide, 34 percent said they have difficulty in elections (interestingly, the figures are slightly lower in LICs at 33.6 and in LMICs at 32.3 percent).

Medical access is an issue for 24.5 percent worldwide (22.7 percent in LICs and LMICs). Government support, which is becoming emblematic of identity projects, is hard to access for 30.7 percent worldwide.

The area with the highest level of issues is SIM card registration, with 38.5 percent of people asked to register their SIMs worldwide facing problems, rising to 42.2 percent of people in LMICs.

Around 30 percent had difficulties with finance, with certain countries with high numbers of unbanked adults facing particular challenges such as Colombia (43 percent struggling with financial services), Tanzania (50 percent) and Uganda (50 percent).

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