Counting Children to make Children Count: Determinants of Birth Registration and the Importance of Context Characteristics in Sub-Saharan Africa

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This paper examines the determinants of birth registration in developing countries using multilevel logistic models with data on 567407 children, 753 sub-national regions, and 34 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa for the years 2005-2018. Although several papers have made an enquiry into the determinants of birth registration, this paper is the first to look into determinants of birth registration at the household, sub-national regional, and national level simultaneously for multiple countries and to look into the interrelationship of the determinants. The results indicate that most of the variation is found at the household level, but that the sub-national regional and national level can also explain part of the variation. At the household level both socio-economic and demographic and care variables are important for birth registration rates. At higher levels, especially the availability of health facilities, urbanization, birth registration legislation, a decentralized birth registration system, a low fertility rate, and a country that has been colonized are beneficial for the birth registration rate. The interaction analysis shows that the effects of the determinants depend on the context the family lives in, thus is situation specific. Therefore, specific policy-making that takes into account the complex dynamics of birth registration is needed. Keywords: birth registration, children aged 0-4, developing countries, Sub-Saharan Africa, household level, sub-national regional level, national level, interaction analysis
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