Tanu Kumar lecture: “Housing as Welfare: How Subsidized Homeownership Generates Social Mobility through Wealth, Voice, and Dignity in India”


Location: 1050 Jenkins Nanovic Halls

About the Lecture

While most existing research on housing in low- and middle-income countries focuses on the causes and consequences of living in informal settlements and slums, governments in India are actively involved in large-scale projects to provide the poor with government constructed housing to own. How does subsidized homeownership for the poor shape their lives? Tanu Kumar conceives of subsidized homeownership as providing beneficiaries with a large, durable asset that they can use, rent, or sell as they wish. The support housing provides to families is in-kind, but when it is owned and can easily be bought or sold, its benefits approach those of pure income transfers. The widespread implementation of subsidized homeownership, moreover, suggests that transfers made through housing may be more politically expedient than something like a basic income guarantee. Kumar argues that through this type of transfer, subsidized homeownership helps even the poorest households build wealth, exercise their voice as citizens, and live with dignity. Kumar illustrates the argument through the study of three different housing policies across India.

About the Speaker

Tanu Kumar is an Assistant Professor in the Division of Politics and Economics at Claremont Graduate University. She studies political, economic, and social behavior in low- and middle-income countries. How do citizens’ material circumstances affect the choices they make and how they interact with each other in society? What are the consequences of emerging global trends to change these fundamentals? She’s particularly interested in the effects of policies related to housing and digital technology. Her regional expertise is in urban India, but she is also beginning to study sub-Saharan Africa.