Millions move to India’s metros in search of a better life, but which metro delivers this the best? Answering this is difficult, but one measure could be access to education and public healthcare. Access to schools and health facilities are the first steps to a prosperous life. And taken together, Hyderabad fares the best on both measures among five of the country’s metros—Bengaluru, Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Hyderabad (Kolkata was excluded from this analysis because of lack of data).

For instance, according to the latest available data (as of August 2019), Hyderabad has the most schools (4,903) and, even after adjusting for population, has the greatest school density (0.57 schools for every 1,000 residents). The school data, compiled by the ministry of human resource development and the National Informatics Centre, includes all types of schools (private and public; primary and secondary; co-educational and non-coed). Chennai, with 1,478 schools at 0.26 schools per 1,000 residents, fares the worst.

The caveat with the entire analysis is that it focuses only on access and not quality. A city may have more schools but the number of schools says little about the quality of education they provide.


Hyderabad also leads in access to public healthcare. Healthcare access is measured in terms of the number of primary healthcare and state hospitals, compiled by the ministry of health and family welfare in 2015 (the latest year for which granular data is available), and does not include any private sector health facilities.

Using this measure, Hyderabad has 401 health centres, 0.05 centres per 1,000 residents. And though Delhi has far more health centres (588), after adjusting for population, its residents have less access to public healthcare compared to Hyderabad’s.

Within cities, though, there are significant differences. To capture these differences, across both education and healthcare, Mint constructed a social infrastructure index, which counts the number of schools and government healthcare centres at the ward level, and then adjusts for the ward’s population.

On this index, four of the five highest-scoring wards are all in Delhi, with Khichripur in north and Roshanpura in southwest scoring the highest. At the other end of the spectrum, Raj Nagar in Delhi and Champapet in Hyderabad have the lowest scores. Champapet, though, is an anomaly in Hyderabad where most of the wards enjoy better access to schools and health centres compared to other metros.

Within these other metros though, there are some patterns in differences in access. For instance, in Mumbai and Delhi, wards in the southern part of the city score higher than the northern parts. While in both Bengaluru and Chennai, wards in the core of the cities fare better than those on the periphery.

A common explanation for these kinds of differences is wealth and segregation within cities. Using population data on Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (SCs/STs) at the ward level, we find no correlation between wards with a greater share of SC/ST population and the wards’ social infrastructure score . But this could be a reflection of our sample (only metro wards) and our narrow definition of public goods provision.

For instance, in a new paper, Anjali Adukia of the University of Chicago and others show how urban segregation does affect the provision of public goods in Indian cities. Analysing administrative data from 3,000 cities, they find that within cities, areas with greater populations of SCs/STs and Muslims have access to less public goods (in terms of schools, doctors and public hospitals).

In Mumbai, wards in the southern part of the city score higher than the northern parts.
In Mumbai, wards in the southern part of the city score higher than the northern parts.
On this index, four of the five highest-scoring wards are all in Delhi, with Khichripur in north and Roshanpura in southwest scoring the highest
On this index, four of the five highest-scoring wards are all in Delhi, with Khichripur in north and Roshanpura in southwest scoring the highest
Champapet is an anomaly in Hyderabad where most of the wards enjoy better access to schools and health centres compared to other metros
Champapet is an anomaly in Hyderabad where most of the wards enjoy better access to schools and health centres compared to other metros
Chennai, with 1,478 schools at 0.26 schools per 1,000 residents, fares the worst
Chennai, with 1,478 schools at 0.26 schools per 1,000 residents, fares the worst
In Bengaluru, wards in the core of the cities fare better than those on the periphery
In Bengaluru, wards in the core of the cities fare better than those on the periphery


Pooja Dantewadia contributed to this story. This is the seventh of a 10-part series on life in Indian cities.

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