The key difference between ghetto and slum is that a ghetto is usually a poor urban area where a minority group lives whereas a slum is a squalid and overcrowded area inhabited by very poor people.
Most of us use these two words, ghetto and slum, interchangeably since these words generally refer to poverty-stricken areas. Moreover, they are also considered as undesirable derogatory terms. However, there is a distinct difference between ghetto and slum.
What is a Ghetto?
A ghetto is a poor urban area where people of a particular race or religion live closely together, apart from other people. In other words, this is an area where a minority group live, usually due to social, legal, or economic pressure. Moreover, the word ghetto comes from the Jewish area in Venice (Venetian Ghetto in Cannaregio).
There are various versions of ghettos across the world, each having their own names, classifications, and groupings of people. Jewish ghettos in Europe and African American ghettos in the US are two examples of such a phenomenon. Like slums, ghettos have decrepit housing and incomplete infrastructure. People living in ghettos usually belong to low-income families.
What is a Slum?
A slum is a squalid and overcrowded area inhabited by very poor people. They include closely-packed decrepit housing units with deteriorated or incomplete infrastructure. Although slums vary in size and geographical locations, they have some common features such as lack of proper sanitation, the supply of clean water, reliable electricity, and other basic services. Although slums are mainly present in the urban areas of developing countries, they can also be found in some developed countries.
Slums form in an area due to various reasons. Some common causes include rapid rural-to-urban migration, high unemployment, poverty, economic stagnation and depression, informal economy, poor house planning, natural disasters, social conflicts and political issues.
According to the United Nations Human Settlements Program in 2012, around 33% (about 863 million) of the urban population in the developing world lived in slums. In addition, the world’s largest slum is in the Neza-Chalco-Ixtapaluca area, in the State of Mexico.
What are the Similarity Between Ghetto and Slum?
- Both share common characteristics such as some degree of poverty, comparatively higher crime rates, decrepit housing, and lack of proper infrastructure.
What is the Difference Between Ghetto and Slum?
A ghetto is a poor urban area where a minority group lives whereas a slum is a squalid and overcrowded area inhabited by very poor people. While a ghetto is characterized by the people who live there, a slum is characterized by the condition of the housing. Hence, this is the key difference between ghetto and slum. Moreover, although you can observe a group of people belonging to a certain race or religion in a ghetto, you may notice a mixture of ethnicities in a slum. More importantly, a ghetto doesn’t have to be necessarily poor. So, this is another difference between ghetto and slum.
Summary – Ghetto vs Slum
There is a distinct difference between ghetto and slum although many people use these words interchangeably. A ghetto is characterized by the people who live there whereas a slum is characterized by the condition of the housing. Thus, the key difference between ghetto and slum is that a ghetto is a poor urban area where a minority group lives whereas a slum is a squalid and overcrowded area inhabited by very poor people.
1.”The Ghetto of Chicago”By V. O. Hammon Publishing Company (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia
2.”Petare Slums in Caracas”By The Photographer – Own work, (CC0) via Commons Wikimedia
3.”Jakarta slumhome 2″By Jonathan McIntosh – Own work, (CC BY 2.0) via Commons Wikimedia