City and Regional Planning

Slums: How Informal Real Estate Markets Work

Slums: How Informal Real Estate Markets Work (University of Pennsylvania, 2016), co-edited by Eugenie L. BirchSusan M. Wachter, and Shahana Chattaraj, shows that unauthorized settlements in rapidly growing cities are not divorced from market forces; rather, they must be understood as complex environments where state policies and market actors still do play a role.

Large numbers of people in urbanizing regions in the developing world live and work in unplanned settlements that grow through incremental processes of squatting and self-building. This volume was edited by PennDesign's Lawrence C. Nussdorf Professor of Urban Research and Education Eugenie L. Birch, The Wharton School's Albert Sussman Professor of Real Estate and Professor of Finance Susan M. Wachter, and Penn Institute for Urban Research's Shahana Chattaraj. Contributors examine how the form and function of informal real estate markets are shaped by legal systems governing property rights, by national and local policy, and by historical and geographic particularities of specific neighborhoods. Their essays provide detailed portraits of individuals and community organizations, revealing in granular detail the working of informal real estate markets, and they review programs that have been implemented in unconventional settlements to provide lessons about the effectiveness and implementation challenges of different approaches.

Chapters explore the relationships between informality, state policies, and market forces from a range of disciplinary perspectives and on different scales, from an analysis of the relationship between regulations and housing in 600 developing world cities to an ethnographic account of the buying and selling of houses in Rio de Janeiro's favelas. While many of the book's contributors focus on the emerging economies of India and Brazil, the conclusions drawn illustrate dynamics relevant to developing countries throughout the Global South.


Shahana Chattaraj


Eugenie L. Birch, Lawrence C. Nussdorf Professor of Urban Research & Education
Susan Wachter, Professor of Financial Management, Professor of Real Estate