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The Size Distribution across all "Cities": A Unifying Approach

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  • Kristian Giesen
  • Jens Suedekum

Abstract

In this paper we show that the double Pareto lognormal (DPLN) parameterization provides an excellent fit to the overall US city size distribution, regardless of whether “cities” are administratively defined Census places or economically defined area clusters. We then consider an economic model that combines scale-independent urban growth (Gibrat’s law) with endogenous city creation. City sizes converge to a DPLN distribution in this model, which is much better in line with the data than previous urban growth frameworks that predict a lognormal or a Pareto city size distribution (Zipf’s law).

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 3730.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_3730

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Keywords: Zipf’s law; Gibrat’s law; city size distributions; double Pareto-Lognormal;

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References

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  1. Vernon Henderson & Anthony Venables, 2009. "Dynamics of city formation," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 12(2), pages 233-254, April.
  2. Moshe Levy, 2009. "Gibrat's Law for (All) Cities: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(4), pages 1672-75, September.
  3. Hernán D. Rozenfeld & Diego Rybski & Xavier Gabaix & Hernán A. Makse, 2009. "The Area and Population of Cities: New Insights from a Different Perspective on Cities," NBER Working Papers 15409, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. William J. Reed, 2002. "On the Rank-Size Distribution for Human Settlements," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 42(1), pages 1-17.
  5. David Cuberes, 2010. "Sequential city growth: empirical evidence," Working Papers. Serie AD 2010-05, Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Económicas, S.A. (Ivie).
  6. González-Val, Rafael & Ramos, Arturo & Sanz, Fernando & Vera-Cabello, María, 2013. "Size Distributions for All Cities: Which One is Best?," MPRA Paper 44314, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  7. Kwok Tong Soo, 2004. "Zipf's law for cities: a cross country investigation," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 19947, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  8. Cuberes, David, 2008. "A Model of Sequential City Growth," MPRA Paper 8431, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  9. Yannis M. Ioannides & Spyros Skouras, 2009. "Gibrat's Law for (All) Cities: A Rejoinder," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University 0740, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
  10. Nitsch, Volker, 2005. "Zipf zipped," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(1), pages 86-100, January.
  11. Henderson, J. Vernon & Wang, Hyoung Gun, 2007. "Urbanization and city growth: The role of institutions," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 283-313, May.
  12. Esteban Rossi-Hansberg & Mark L. J. Wright, 2006. "Urban structure and growth," Staff Report 381, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  13. Reed, William J., 2003. "The Pareto law of incomes—an explanation and an extension," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 319(C), pages 469-486.
  14. Jan Eeckhout, 2004. "Gibrat's Law for (All) Cities," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(5), pages 1429-1451, December.
  15. María Sánchez-Vidal & Rafael González-Val & Elisabet Viladecans-Marsal, 2013. "Sequential city growth in the US: Does age matter?," ERSA conference papers ersa13p35, European Regional Science Association.
  16. Harris Dobkins, Linda & Ioannides, Yannis M., 2001. "Spatial interactions among U.S. cities: 1900-1990," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(6), pages 701-731, November.
  17. Xavier Gabaix, 1999. "Zipf'S Law For Cities: An Explanation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(3), pages 739-767, August.
  18. J.V. Henderson, 1972. "The Sizes and Types of Cities," Working Papers 75, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  19. Ioannides, Yannis & Skouras, Spyros, 2013. "US city size distribution: Robustly Pareto, but only in the tail," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 73(1), pages 18-29.
  20. Jan Eeckhout, 2009. "Gibrat's Law for (All) Cities: Reply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(4), pages 1676-83, September.
  21. Giesen, Kristian & Zimmermann, Arndt & Suedekum, Jens, 2010. "The size distribution across all cities - Double Pareto lognormal strikes," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(2), pages 129-137, September.
  22. Wen‐Tai Hsu, 2012. "Central Place Theory and City Size Distribution," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 122(563), pages 903-932, 09.
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Cited by:
  1. González-Val, Rafael & Ramos, Arturo & Sanz, Fernando & Vera-Cabello, María, 2013. "Size Distributions for All Cities: Which One is Best?," MPRA Paper 44314, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  2. Kristian GIESEN & Jens SÜDEKUM, 2012. "The French Overall City Size Distribution," Region et Developpement, Region et Developpement, LEAD, Universite du Sud - Toulon Var, vol. 36, pages 107-126.
  3. Ferdinand Rauch, 2013. "Cities as Spatial Clusters," Economics Series Working Papers 656, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.

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