Weak Institutions and Persistence of Slums in Bihar, India


  • Abodh Kumar
  • Muhammad Ramzan Sheikh Bahauddin Zakariya University Multan
  • Kashif Saeed




Slums, Weak Institutions, Governance, Patronage, Perceived Property Rights, Human Capital


This study endeavours to answer two questions: (a) why do slums persist? and (b) How can we transform slums into better living space? Small city slums have been largely overlooked in the existing literature on urbanization. The study utilises primary data collected from 184 households and focus group discussions conducted in nine different slums of Gaya, a small city of Bihar in India. Econometric results reveal that perceived legal ownership, prolonged stay at the same location, income and education facilitate the dissolution of slum attributes, as defined by UN-Habitat. Our results also suggest that although patronage associated with corruption within the local formal governance enables reduction of slum characteristics, but discriminatory allocation of public resources contributes to their persistence. The paper suggests that strengthening of security of land tenure, improvement in local governance and adoption of income and human capital augmenting measures can act as potential catalyst towards the endeavour to de-slum a city.