Life Between the City and the Village: Comparative Analysis of Service Access in Indian Urban Slums

18 Pages Posted: 5 Sep 2019

See all articles by Luis Bettencourt

Luis Bettencourt

University of Chicago - Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation

Anand Sahasranaman

Krea University - Division of Mathematics and Computer Science; Imperial College London

Date Written: September 2, 2019

Abstract

The emergence of India as an urbanized nation is one of the most significant socioeconomic and political processes of the 21st century. An essential feature of India’s urbanization has been the growth and persistence of informal settlements (slums) in its fast-developing cities. Whether living conditions in Indian urban slums constitute a path to human development or a poverty trap is therefore an issue of vital importance. Here, we characterize census data using the framework of urban scaling to systematically characterize the relative properties of Indian urban slums, focusing on attributes of neighbourhoods such as access to basic services like water, sanitation, and electrical power. We find that slums in larger cities offer systematically higher levels of service access than those in smaller cities. Perhaps as expected, we also find consistent underperformance in service access in slums in comparison with non-slum neighbourhoods in the same cities. However, urban slums, on average, offer greater access to services than neighbourhoods in rural areas. This situation, which we quantify systematically, may help explain why Indian larger cities have remained attractive to rural populations in terms of living standards, beyond the need for an economic income premium.

Keywords: Human Development, Informal Settlements, Poverty, India, Infrastructure, Scaling

Suggested Citation

Bettencourt, Luis and Sahasranaman, Anand, Life Between the City and the Village: Comparative Analysis of Service Access in Indian Urban Slums (September 2, 2019). Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation Research Paper . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3448171 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3448171

Luis Bettencourt (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation ( email )

5735 S Ellis Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Anand Sahasranaman

Krea University - Division of Mathematics and Computer Science ( email )

Andhra Pradesh
India

Imperial College London ( email )

South Kensington Campus
Exhibition Road
London, Greater London SW7 2AZ
United Kingdom

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
23
Abstract Views
177
PlumX Metrics