India’s villages have historically been segregated by caste. Marginalized groups have lived together at the outskirts, excluded from village social circles and amenities.
We set out to examine whether cities were different. Does the market bridge social divides, or do rural inequities get reproduced?
We used administrative data on 1.5 million urban and rural neighborhoods to calculate the Dissimilarity Index, a standard measure of segregation. The Dissimilarity Index describes how evenly groups are distributed across the neighborhoods of a city. It tells us what fraction of marginalized group members would have to move in order to achieve an equal distribution across neighborhoods. High values indicate high levels of segregation.
We find that urban areas are just as segregated as rural areas for SCs, and even more so for Muslims. India's Muslims and Scheduled Castes are about as segregated as Black people in the United States today.