Identity rights: a structural void in inclusive growth

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This paper investigates a structural void that, especially in the context of poor or developing nations, prevents economic growth from being more inclusive and benefiting wider sections of society. The authors initially examine the imperative for inclusive growth, one encompassing a focus on poverty and development. Utilizing social choice theory, and a capability deprivation perspective, we observe that the poor experience deprivations due to a deficiency in their personal autonomy. This in turn is deeply interwoven with the concept of identity. Legally recognizing the poor as individuals, and providing them with proof of their identity, will empower them and facilitate inclusive growth and poverty alleviation. These conceptual arguments are illustrated with the description of a biometric-linked developmental initiative that is providing proof of identity to 1.2 billion residents of India. By establishing a robust identity management system, the project aims to ensure more inclusive growth and efficiently target welfare programs. The authors further investigate how the establishment of identity rights facilitates financial inclusion, property ownership, and necessity-driven entrepreneurial action. Biometric identification on this scale is, however, fraught with dangers to civil liberties and has other serious ethical consequences. In the last section, issues around privacy and security are debated while highlighting the need for external review and independent monitoring to define the project’s boundaries and usages.


Copyright 2015 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht

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Publication Title

Journal of business ethics

Published Citation

Sud, Mukesh, and Craig V. VanSandt. "Identity rights: a structural void in inclusive growth." Journal of business ethics 132, no. 3 (2015): 589-601. doi:10.1007/s10551-014-2359-5.



Peer Reviewed