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 Outcomes

Journal article submitted

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)

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


Sarah Zimmermann ’18

This Team in the News

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

See earlier related team, Studying the Real ‘Slums’ in Bangalore (2015-2016).

Faculty/Staff Team Members

Anirudh Krishna, Sanford School of Public Policy*
Erik Wibbels, Trinity - Political Science*

Graduate Team Members

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

Undergraduate Team Members

Venkat Subramaniam, Biology (BS), Computer Science (BS2)
Yiyun (Nancy) Zhu, Computer Science (AB)
Sarah Zimmermann, Statistical Science (AB)

Community Team Members

Jana Urban Foundation
Indian Institute of Management

* denotes team leader


Completed, Archived