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The Emerging Face of Suburban India: The Geography of Residential Property Markets

Jefferey Sellers, Haoshi Wang
One of the major social scientific challenges of the twenty-first century lies in understanding and managing the rapid urbanization that is now under way throughout the developing world. This paper draws on two new data sources to describe and analyze the new markets for housing that have emerged in rapidly developing regions outside big cities in India. The analysis focuses on two growing urban regions where foreign investment and exurban development zones have played a prominent role in peri-urban markets for land and housing (Bangalore and Pune) and one with a more traditional manufacturing economic base (Coimbatore). An initial analysis develops and applies a novel classification of new housing based on high resolution remote sensing images to analyze the dynamics of land use transformation in two matched zones of peri-urban transition on the fringe of each city. We then supplement this data with a second novel dataset of housing prices scraped from recently available online listings services to analyze inequality in emerging suburban housing markets. In contrast with the frequent portrayal of new suburban development zones as privileged, homogenous enclaves, our analysis shows that diverse housing conditions and unequal local housing prices are characteristic of the most advanced zones. Housing markets, influenced by differences in infrastructure, building conditions and services, reinforce disparities within these peri- urban zones.