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Deviations from Zipf's Law for American Cities: An Empirical Examination

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  • Rafael González-Val

    ()
    (Facultat d'Economia i Empresa, Universitat de Barcelona and Institut d'Economia de Barcelona (IEB), Avda. Diagonal, 690, Barcelona 08034, Spain)

Abstract

This paper presents a simple method for calculating deviations between actual city size and the size which would correspond to it with a Pareto exponent equal to one (Zipf's law). The results show two differentiated behaviours: most cities (80.25 per cent) present a greater size than that which would fulfil Zipf's law, while small cities (19.75 per cent) tend to be too small. The aim of the paper is to analyse the distribution element by element, using data about city characteristics from all American cities in 2000, and to explain the deviation between the size predicted by Zipf's law and the actual size of each city. To do this, a multinomial logit model is used. The most important variables affecting the probability of a city presenting a negative or positive deviation are per capita income, human capital levels and the percentage of the population employed in some sectors.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Urban Studies Journal Limited in its journal Urban Studies.

Volume (Year): 48 (2011)
Issue (Month): 5 (April)
Pages: 1017-1035

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Handle: RePEc:sae:urbstu:v:48:y:2011:i:5:p:1017-1035

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Web page: http://www.gla.ac.uk/departments/urbanstudiesjournal

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  1. Yannis Menelaos Ioannides & Henry G. Overman, 2003. "Zipf’s law for cities : an empirical examination," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 583, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  2. Soo, Kwok Tong, 2005. "Zipf's Law for cities: a cross-country investigation," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(3), pages 239-263, May.
  3. Esteban Rossi-Hansberg & Mark L. J. Wright, 2003. "Urban structure and growth," Discussion Paper / Institute for Empirical Macroeconomics 141, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  4. Paul Krugman, 1990. "Increasing Returns and Economic Geography," NBER Working Papers 3275, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Edward L. Glaeser & Matthew E. Kahn, 2001. "Decentralized Employment and the Transformation of the American City," NBER Working Papers 8117, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Edward L. Glaeser & Joseph Gyourko & Raven E. Saks, 2005. "Urban Growth and Housing Supply," NBER Working Papers 11097, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Small, Kenneth A & Hsiao, Cheng, 1985. "Multinomial Logit Specification Tests," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 26(3), pages 619-27, October.
  8. Rosen, Kenneth T. & Resnick, Mitchel, 1980. "The size distribution of cities: An examination of the Pareto law and primacy," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(2), pages 165-186, September.
  9. Duncan Black & Vernon Henderson, 2003. "Urban evolution in the USA," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 3(4), pages 343-372, October.
  10. Gilles Duranton, 2007. "Urban Evolutions: The Fast, the Slow, and the Still," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(1), pages 197-221, March.
  11. J. Scott Long & Jeremy Freese, 2006. "Regression Models for Categorical Dependent Variables using Stata, 2nd Edition," Stata Press books, StataCorp LP, edition 2, number long2, March.
  12. Jan Eeckhout, 2004. "Gibrat's Law for (All) Cities," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(5), pages 1429-1451, December.
  13. Xavier Gabaix, 1999. "Zipf'S Law For Cities: An Explanation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(3), pages 739-767, August.
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Cited by:
  1. Tarsha EASON & Ahjond S. GARMESTANI, 2012. "Cross-Scale Dynamics Of A Regional Urban System Through Time," Region et Developpement, Region et Developpement, LEAD, Universite du Sud - Toulon Var, vol. 36, pages 55-77.
  2. Rafael GONZÀLEZ-VAL, 2012. "Zipf’S Law: Main Issues In Empirical Work," Region et Developpement, Region et Developpement, LEAD, Universite du Sud - Toulon Var, vol. 36, pages 147-164.

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