I have been scouring the web for pictures to help illustrate why registration -- of children and the more general population -- is a vital measure of governance. Andy Norton from ODI got me back on this topic.
Registration coverage is an indicator of the degree to which governments know where people are, which materially influences the capability to govern. Note from the graphs that this is a missing capability in most developing countries, where many children and adults simply are not registered. Note the numbers of children not registered in places like Africa (in the pie chart).
Note also that the registration records are not getting better in many countries, as shown in the bar chart, partly because there are few serious efforts to construct registry mechanisms that can work in these contexts.
Note also that the problem is most severe when one looks at rural groups. So improvements to registry levels will improve governance capabilities and especially help improve governance for distributed groups.