Indian Cities Are Dense, And There Is Nothing Wrong With It
Indian cities are densely populated and many believe that high density is a major cause of Indian cities being poor. The prejudice against density perhaps stems from this. This is not true at all. Economists have long known that population is an asset. This is because most of us produce far more than we consume. In any case, population and density are not the same.
The United States, for example, is a vastly populated country but, it is not dense while Indian and Chinese cities are both dense and vastly populated. But, in India, population is not the reason why the cities are dense. In fact, there are vast, sparsely populated regions in the country, too.
On the other hand, Singapore is not a very populated country but is dense by global standards. This is because the country doesn't have much land.
Asian cities have high densities, even then they are prosperous. Hong Kong and Singapore are dense, though both are prosperous city-states. The US cities have low densities, but it is not necessary that all American cities are prosperous.
African, European and Latin American cities are moderately dense, but this is not because these cities are moderately prosperous. While African and Latin American cities tend to be poor, the European cities tend to be fairly prosperous. Density figures do not say much, when we do not know much else about a city. Atlanta in the US, for example, is a city where density levels are low but, sparsely populated Atlanta is not less productive when compared to dense Hong Kong.
Economists like Edward Glaeser have long been pointing out that density is good, and that density makes cities productive. Now, it is true that density has some advantages. In dense cities, there is greater proximity between people which leads to greater interactions between people. Greater interaction leads to greater learning. When people live too close to each other, it is easier to find potential work partners or jobs. It is easier for employers to hire the right people for various jobs and easier for employees who leave jobs to start a new company.
Density also leads to greater innovation in the fields like arts. For example, certain art forms are clustered in a certain time and space. People in a certain part of the world are likely to engage in certain art forms. Ancient Florence and Athens were very creative, for instance. This is not true of modern Florence or Athens. Why? Creativity is clustered in certain time and space. If this is true, densifying such areas may make those areas more creative.