Urban Geography and Scaling of Contemporary Indian Cities

20 Pages Posted: 1 Apr 2019

See all articles by Anand Sahasranaman

Anand Sahasranaman

Imperial College London - Department of Mathematics

Luís M.A. Bettencourt

University of Chicago; Santa Fe Institute

Date Written: September 23, 2018


This paper attempts to create a first comprehensive analysis of the integrated characteristics of contemporary Indian cities, using scaling and geographic analysis over a set of diverse indicators. We use data at the level of Urban Agglomerations in India from the Census 2011 and from a few other sources to characterize patterns of urban population density, infrastructure, urban services, economic performance, crime and innovation. Many of the results are in line with expectations from urban theory and with the behaviour of analogous quantities in other urban systems in both high and middle-income nations. India is a continental scale, fast developing urban system, and consequently there are also a number of interesting exceptions and surprises related to both specific quantities and strong regional patterns of variation. We characterize these patterns in detail for crime and innovation and connect them to the existing literature on their determinants in a specifically Indian context. The paucity of data at the urban level and the absence of official definitions for functional cities in India create a number of limitations and caveats to any present analysis. We discuss these shortcomings and spell out the challenge for a systematic statistical data collection relevant to cities and urban development in India.

Keywords: Urban Development, Density, Innovation, Patents, Crime, Homicide, Infrastructure, Urban Agglomeration, Cities

Suggested Citation

Sahasranaman, Anand and Bettencourt, Luís M.A., Urban Geography and Scaling of Contemporary Indian Cities (September 23, 2018). Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation Research Paper No. 2, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3362570 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3362570

Anand Sahasranaman

Imperial College London - Department of Mathematics ( email )

South Kensington Campus
Imperial College
United Kingdom

Luís M.A. Bettencourt (Contact Author)

University of Chicago

1101 East 58th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Santa Fe Institute

1399 Hyde Park Road
Santa Fe, NM 87501
United States

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