Mangalore: The Front Lines of India’s Employment, Migration and Urban Challenges

7 January 2020

This report focuses on Mangalore, Karnataka to highlight dispersed urbanisation and job opportunities outside large cities. It provides data and makes policy recommendations for economic development and inclusive job markets.

Cities have an important role in creating employment opportunities for the approximately 10 million youth who enter India’s working age population each year. However, as India enters its demographic dividend phase, there are several challenges that cities continue to face in playing their part. India experiences low rural-urban migration, and rural-urban wage disparities only become significant when individuals secure regular jobs. Additionally, high living costs in large cities are a key reason for seasonal and short-term rural-to-urban movement.

This research project turns its attention to the “where” of the demographic dividend – what kind of geographies are experiencing the transition of youth from agriculture to non-farm work?


In doing so, it shifts its focus from metropolitan cities to smaller towns and regions undergoing in-situ transformations. It highlights that India’s urbanisation is dispersed and driven by the transition from agriculture to non-farm work within smaller urban areas. Manufacturing activities are also moving away from large cities, which indicates the availability of jobs in various urban locations, including areas yet to urbanise.

Small towns, secondary cities, and similar areas, collectively referred to as small cities, are home to a considerable portion of India’s youth population, and play a significant role in creating urban jobs. However, these areas often receive inadequate public investment and lack essential services, despite their potential to contribute to economic growth and poverty alleviation.

This report focuses on Mangalore, a small city in Karnataka, India, poised for economic development due to its educated workforce and infrastructure. It presents data on Mangalore’s context and offers policy recommendations to unlock its economic potential and create inclusive job markets for rural and small-city youth.