Many in the developed world will rightly think we have quite enough of it, but increasing bureaucracy in developing countries may prove to be a key tool in boosting overall prosperity.

According to the UN four billion people (!) live without an official address and 1 billion people lack proof of identity, according to the World Bank.

The above causes an array of issues. It inhibits public and private institutions to raise revenues to develop essential services, such as its infrastructure, education and healthcare amenities. It also makes it difficult to provide goods and services – stalling both public and private sector development.

Perhaps an even greater problem arising from the lack of bureaucracy is that is generally goes hand-in-hand with the lack of property rights – which has a consequent effects on people’s behaviour.

The World Bank conducted an experiment on land ownership in Benin, and found that farmers that were able to register their land, compared to those that couldn’t, didn’t only invest more into their land, but also invested into longer term projects/crops such as palm oil trees. Additionaly they found that they had to spend less time guarding their land which allowed them to focus on other tasks, such as generating additional income.

Development organisations largely acknowledge these findings and are increasingly focused on deploying capacity building initiatives, such as providing accounting and IT related courses. There are also private initiatives, such as Grupo Carteiro Amigo, a Brazilian company that uses the what3words methodology to give people in favelas like Rochinha an adreses and “to give residents back one of their basic rights”.

That said, capacity building programs have attracted critique as well as you can see in this ”Vocational Bridges to Nowhere” article.

Categories: Development


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