In Situ Urbanization in India: Evidence From 30 Years of Settlement-Level Census Data

Mark R. Montgomery , Population Council
Deborah L. Balk, CUNY Institute for Demographic Research (CIDR)
Jessie Pinchoff, Population Council
Khizra Athar, Baruch College, City University of New York (CUNY)

Urban growth in poor countries is commonly parsed into three distinct contributions: urban natural increase; net in-migration; and an ill-defined third category known as reclassification. Reclassification is exceedingly difficult to measure and is therefore often consigned to the residual in growth accounting. Yet of the three contributions to growth, reclassification is perhaps the most intimately related to the political economy of national, urban, and city-specific development. We investigate reclassification in India, using detailed village-level socioeconomic data from the censuses of 1991, 2001 and 2011, complemented by high-resolution satellite data from 1990 to 2015. We ask whether village socioeconomic characteristics and its location vis-a-vis nearby cities and towns, are predictive of reclassification over the inter-censal periods. We give close attention not only to legal reclassification, but also to two transitions that are often seen as precursors to it: the designation of villages as census towns or outgrowths of statutory towns.

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 Presented in Session 28. Urbanization and Urban Change