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Zipf's law for cities: a cross country investigation

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  • Kwok Tong Soo

Abstract

This paper assesses the empirical validity of Zipf¿s Law for cities, using new data on 73 countries and two estimation methods ¿ OLS and the Hill estimator. With either estimator, we reject Zipf¿s Law far more often than we would expect based on random chance; for 53 out of 73 countries using OLS, and for 30 out of 73 countries using the Hill estimator. The OLS estimates of the Pareto exponent are roughly normally distributed, but those of the Hill estimator are bimodal. Variations in the value of the Pareto exponent are better explained by political economy variables than by economic geography variables.

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File URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/19947/
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library in its series LSE Research Online Documents on Economics with number 19947.

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Length: 37 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:19947

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Keywords: Cities; Zipfs Law; Pareto distribution; Hill estimator;

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  1. Krugman, Paul, 1996. "Confronting the Mystery of Urban Hierarchy," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 10(4), pages 399-418, December.
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  9. Cordoba, Juan Carlos, 2010. "On the Distribution of City Sizes," Staff General Research Papers 32121, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  10. 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.
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  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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  16. Duncan Black & Vernon Henderson, 2003. "Urban evolution in the USA," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 3(4), pages 343-372, October.
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  18. Alperovich, Gershon, 1988. "A new testing procedure of the rank size distribution," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(2), pages 251-259, March.
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