Multiple shocks and slum household economies in South India

Barbara Harriss-White, Wendy Olsen, Penny Vera-Sanso, V. Suresh

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This research uses a fresh perspective to trace the impact of multiple economic, financial and environmental shocks on slum-dwellers in the South Indian city of Chennai from November 2008 to May 2009. It examines the effects of a concatenation of events scaled from the global to the local, consisting of economic shocks (speculation in financial, fuel and food markets) and extremes of rainfall and temperature, on a cross-section of the urban poor (differentiated by age and gender), taking in household dynamics and work status. The paper also traces the rapidity with which these shocks transfer from the global economy to slum settlements. The method involved twelve-month recall over three survey periods during the shocks and their aftermath, a comparison of emic and etic measures of economic well-being and the comparative use of mixed methods. This research is also the first application of qualitative comparative analysis to slum conditions. © 2013 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)398-429
Number of pages31
JournalEconomy and Society
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • ageing
  • gender
  • informal economy
  • poverty
  • qualitative comparative analysis
  • shocks and crisis


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