Studying the Real 'Slums' in Bangalore, Patna and Jaipur (2016-2017)

There is a relative paucity of knowledge about urban poverty in developing countries. At the same time that cities in the developing world are loci of great economic dynamism, they are also becoming the centers of large inequalities in educational level and quality, health outcomes, lifestyles and housing conditions. Right beside luxury-brand stores and glass-walled office towers, there are people living in squalid settlements and close-packed slums. Relatively little is known about processes of settlement; trajectories over time; and social, political and economic dynamics in slums.

Building on previous Bass Connections projects, the 2016-17 project team examined tenure security and social mobility, two little-understood aspects of India’s poor populations. The team members expanded data collection from one city, Bangalore, to three cities with widely ranging characteristics. Bangalore, Jaipur and Patna are all state capitals and hubs of their regions, but they are growing at different speeds—fast (Bangalore), medium (Jaipur) and slow (Patna).

The data were collected via locally hired enumerators with digital tablets. They conducted 45-minute-long surveys with questions ranging from age, education and gender of household members to assets, neighborhood organizing and voting banks.

The team found that individual-level characteristics affect social mobility, such as the number of years of education and type of occupations of family members in each household. Neighborhood-level characteristics also affect social mobility, such as community engagement. The more active and supportive the community is, the more likely upward mobility will occur. The team also confirmed that tenure security increases with perception of collective title and decreases with perception of private title.

The team wrote a paper on the range of conditions across Indian slums and the potential for social mobility in these communities, for submission to the journal World Development. The faculty team leaders were awarded a grant from the Omidyar Network to continue their work studying the slums of Bangalore. Jeremy Spater received a follow-on grant from Bass Connections to conduct additional fieldwork in Bangalore.


Summer 2016 – Spring 2017

Team Outputs

Jeremy Spater. 2020. "Exposure and Preferences: Evidence from Indian Slums." American Journal of Political Science.

Emily Rains and Anirudh Krishna. "Precarious gains: Social mobility and volatility in urban slums." 2020. World Development 1(132).

Emily Rains and Jeremy Spater. “Ethnic Polarization, Perceived Income, and Political Manipulation.” In preparation. 

Jeremy Spater. “Measuring Segregation and Individual Outgroup Exposure: The k-Nearest-Neighbor Metric.” In preparation. 

Erik Wibbels, MS Sriram, Jeremy Spater. “Title, Settlement Recognition and the Emergence of Property Rights.” Working paper.

Erik Wibbels and Juan Tellez. “Order, Policing and Bribes in Indian Slums.” Under review. Journal of Conflict Resolution.

Jeremy Spater and Erik Wibbels. “Social Density, Voting Banking and Clientelism.” Under review. Journal of Politics.

Anirudh Krishna, M.S. Sriram and Erik Wibbels. Under review. “Land Title, Legal Recognition and the Emergence of Property Rights: Evidence from 157 Slums in Bangalore.” American Journal of Political Science.

Jeremy Spater, Erik Wibbels. Under review. “Individual Clientelism and Collective Clientelism and Vote Banking among the Poor.” American Political Science Review.

Anirudh Krishna, Emily Rains, Erik Wibbels. Forthcoming. “Combining Satellite and Survey Data to Study Heterogeneous Indian Slums.” Environment and Urbanization.

Emily Rains, Anirudh Krishna, Erik Wibbels. “Combining Satellite and Survey Data to Study Indian Slums: Evidence on the Range of Conditions and Implications for Urban Policy.” 2018. Environment and Urbanization 31(1):267-292.

Nikhil Khaza, Anirudh Krishna, Ranga Raju Vatsavai, Erik Wibbels, “Identifying and Characterizing Irregular Settlements in Bengaluru, India using High-resolution Satellite Imagery” (policy report prepared for the Omidyar Network, 2018)

Anirudh Krishna, Emily Rains, Jeremy Spater, Erik Wibbels, “Studying the Real Slums of Bangalore: Transacting and Titling in Informal Property Markets” (policy report prepared for the Omidyar Network, 2018)

Grant of Satellite Images of Patna and Jaipur. Anirudh Krishna, Erik Wibbels. Digital Globe Foundation, 2017.

Social, Political and Economic Networks in Slums of Jaipur and Patna” (Policy report prepared for the International Growth Centre by Anirudh Krishna, Jeremy Spater, Erik Wibbels, 2017)

Emily Rains. 2017. “Paying for Power: The Political Economy of Energy Insolvency in Bihar, India.” Energy & Development (Global Energy Access Network Case Studies, Vol. 1).

Studying the Real Slums of Bangalore, Jaipur and Patna (poster by Sarah Zimmermann and Nancy Zhu)

Studying the Real “Slums” in Bangalore, Patna and Jaipur (presentation by Sarah Zimmermann and Nancy Zhu, EHDx Talks, April 19, 2017)

Erik Wibbels, Informal Urban Property Markets: Evidence from Satellites and Surveys ($232,000 grant awarded from the Omidyar Foundation, 2016)

Erik Wibbels and Anirudh Krishna, Property Rights and Public Services in the Slums of Patna and Jaipur, India ($129,800 grant awarded from the International Growth Centre, 2016)

Anirudh Krishna and Erik Wibbels, Social Networks, Property Rights and Public Services in the Slums of Patna and Jaipur ($37,812 grant awarded from the The London School of Economics and Political Science, 2015)

Bass Connections Follow-on Student Research Award (Jeremy Spater)

Bass Connections Photo Contest, Second Place (Sarah Zimmermann)


Studying the Real “Slums” in Bangalore, Patna and Jaipur


Faculty Perspectives: Erik Wibbels

Emily Rains

Most Meaningful Bass Connections Experience: Sarah Zimmermann ’18

Sarah Zimmermann ’18

This Team in the News

These Ph.D. Graduates Incorporated Bass Connections into Their Doctoral Education

Meet the Winners of the 2020 Bass Connections Student Research Awards

Case Studies of Indian Slums Reveal Unique Narratives and Leadership Histories

Counting the Slums the Indian Government Isn't Counting

Research on Bengaluru Slums Receiving National Attention in India

Study Reveals 2,000 Slums in Bengaluru, Govt Lists Only 597

Very Little Upward Mobility in Slums: Study

Snapshots in Civic Engagement

Duke Seniors Share What Was Most Meaningful about Their Bass Connections Experiences

Bass Connections Students Contribute to Volume on Energy Access in the Developing World

Meet the Members of the 2017-18 Student Advisory Council

Investigating the Politics of Slums in Urban India

Slum Detectives

Student Laurels and Honors for 2017

Students Present Their Research and Learn from Each Other at the Bass Connections Showcase

Twelve Students Receive Grants to Take Their Bass Connections Research Further

Photo Contest Winners Shed Light on Their Research Experiences in Brazil and India

Slums in Bangalore: Seed Funding Grows

This project team was originally part of the Education & Human Development theme of Bass Connections, which ended in 2022. See earlier related team, Studying the Real ‘Slums’ in Bangalore (2015-2016).

Team Leaders

  • Anirudh Krishna, Sanford School of Public Policy
  • Erik Wibbels, Arts & Sciences-Political Science

/graduate Team Members

  • Kritika Kailash, Masters of Public Policy, International Dev Policy
  • Emily Rains, Public Policy Studies-PHD, Political Science-AM
  • Jeremy Spater, Political Science-PHD

/undergraduate Team Members

  • Venkat Subramaniam, Computer Science (BS)
  • Yiyun (Nancy) Zhu, Computer Science (AB)
  • Sarah Zimmermann, Statistical Science (BS)

/zcommunity Team Members

  • Jana Urban Foundation
  • Indian Institute of Management