Pretty much a year ago, I blogged about residential segregation of Lucknow's Muslims. There were three prominent explanations for why Muslims tend not to live in newer parts of the city, and if so, then more segregated: a) they do not want to because they prefer old-city conviviality, b) they cannot afford to because they are poor, and c) they are not allowed to, i.e. discriminated against in the housing market. All three explanations have important implications for my overall interest in Muslim belonging. But which is the most likely?

As one comment back then pointed out, data on real estate would be key to sort this out. I now have that data, and will attempt to solve the riddle in two posts. Today, I will give an overview of Lucknow's real estate market, while taking a closer look at the local state's involvement next week. This is all quite experimental still, and I would be very interested in your comments (if you are interested in a more extensive analysis, please drop me a line)!

The basis for my analysis is data from Lucknow's Property Index Register, which records all registered property sales since 2006, more than 250.000 transactions. As a first step, have a look at the following map (larger version), which shows the average sales prices per square meter over this period:

Clearly, the most expensive parts of Lucknow are those across the river towards the East - Indira Nagar, Gomti Nagar - as well as Hazratganj and Mall Avenue. These are precisely the areas where few Muslims live. But the map also shows that the old city (delimited by the thick black line) is not cheap either; while average property prices in the trans-Gomti area reach 8748 Rs/sqm, they stand at 6564 Rs/sqm in the old city, which is still more than in the rest of Lucknow, including the newest developments in the South (6222 Rs/sqm). This is at least a tentative hint that Muslim poverty (which is hard to measure in the first place, more on this, perhaps, in a few weeks time) is an insufficient explanation for residential pattern: with the exception of the abovementioned hot spots across the river, houses in new Lucknow are not necessarily more expensive than those in the old city, where most Muslims tend to live.

What about discrimination then, the second prominent explanation? Using the namematching algorithm that I developed, I classified each seller and buyer as Muslim or non-Muslim. I then ran a regression of standardized house prices1 on the religion of buyer and seller and part of town, controlling for approximate size of property2 and date of registration. Without going into statistical details (if you are interested in those, email me), the regression shows that Muslim sellers achieve higher prices in the old city while the inverse is true in other parts of town, and particularly in the trans-Gomti area.

A second map (larger version) visualizes the strength of this effect across Lucknow; green areas are those in which Muslims achieve higher prices than non-Muslims for similar houses - i.e. houses of similar size sold at the same time in the same mohalla - and red areas those in which non-Muslims have an advantage:

If you compare this map to the one of Muslim population distribution, you see that Muslims have an advantage in areas where many Muslims live: in the old city, the areas east thereof, a small corridor towards the South and, interestingly the Cantonment. They have a harder time in Mall Avenue and the trans-Gomti area, where they achieve lower prices because of their religious identity - which on first view seems to confirm allegations of discrimination in these parts of Lucknow (while the same affects non-Muslims in the old city in turn). Jagah!

This finding per se does not yet, however, explain how exactly discrimination might work. This is something I will turn to next week, looking in particular at the role of the local state (and on the way casting a more sceptical view of my raw data source, the Property Index Register). Until then, I am curious for your comments...

  • 1. What the price map does not show is tremendous fluctuation within each part of Lucknow; I thus z-standardized house prices within each mohalla (the smallest administrative unit at which property is registered), effectively applying a spatial bracket
  • 2. Arrived at by dividing the market value recorded in the register by the applicable residential circle rate
Jeet's picture

Hi Raphael,

Congrats and Thanks for your research work in Lucknow.
Regarding this post I would like to explain my view point-

I live in an area in Lucknow, which falls between Vikas Nagar & Indira Nagar. Both of the suburbs developed by Government agencies like LDA etc. Area in between like Khurram Nagar, Pant Nagar (right of Kukrail Nala) are area with relatively high muslim population. Both area had developed on free hold lands( means developed prior to any government plans) Most of these lands had belonged to muslims. In early 90s of lucknow's expansion muslims preferred to buy land from their known people and quickly settled there.

If we follow area of New lucknow certain places with relative higher concentration of muslim population is that those lands were pre-owned by muslims and were bought by people who had known the land owners, a practice prevelant in North India to minimise risks of land frauds.

One of the fact that even in certain colonies, a particular lane may have all muslim households but the next lane may not have even one. This supports the reason that everyone in the particular lane bought from single land owner, who may had been a muslim.

Raphael Susewind's picture

Hi Jeet - thanks for your comment! In a more current chapter of my dissertation I argue precisely down this route: what counts is social proximity, that is informal knowledge about each other, resulting trust, etc. which then "smoothes" a transaction.

Also, the question of Muslim land-OWNERSHIP in new Lucknow is quite interesting - for most of this area used to be taluqedari land. Unfortunately, I only have property TRANSACTIONS, rather than land ownership data (there is no kathvani system for urban land), but do you have an estimate of how much of new Lucknow is still OWNED by Muslims, though not necessarily INHABITED by them? That is how many Muslim owners RENT OUT their houses / their land, but don't sell it?

Anmol's picture

Hi Raphael,

Congratulations on such beautiful work, these maps are helping me in my final year Architecture thesis. How come you chose Lucknow for your dissertation?

Anmol Yogleela.

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