The Political Economy of Slums: Theory and Evidence from Sub-Saharan Africa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

104 Citations (Scopus)


Over 800 million people in Africa, Asia, and Latin America live in slums. Why? I argue that slums are a result of “disjointed modernization” and show that 70% of cross-country variation in slum incidence is explained by demographic, economic, and institutional factors. I trace the origins of disjointed modernization in sub-Saharan Africa back to the colonial period and show that colonial era investments and institutions are reflected in contemporary variation in slum incidence. I argue that status quo interests and the rise of an anti-urbanization bias in development discourse have inhibited investment and reform in the postcolonial era.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)191
Number of pages203
JournalWorld Development
Publication statusPublished - 2013

Structured keywords

  • PolicyBristolGovernanceAndPublicServices
  • PolicyBristolGlobalPoliticalEconomy
  • PolicyBristolBusinessAndEconomicPolicy
  • PolicyBristolHealthAndWellbeing


  • slums
  • informal settments
  • Africa
  • colonialism
  • urban development
  • urbanization
  • political economy


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