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Uneven landscapes and the city size distribution

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Author Info

  • Sanghoon Lee

    ()
    (University of British Columbia)

  • Qiang Li

    ()
    (Shanghai University of Finance and Economics)

Abstract

This paper proposes a new explanation for Zipf’s law often observed in the top tail of city size distribution. We show that Zipf’s law can emerge if city size can be expressed as a product of multiple random factors. Each of the factors need not generate Zipf’s law by itself. The key implication is that we cannot reject a model simply because the model does not generate Zipf’s law. A single model, typically representing only one factor, may not generate Zipf’s law, but if we have many such models together as in reality, Zipf’s law may emerge.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institut d'Economia de Barcelona (IEB) in its series Working Papers with number 2010/41.

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Length: 27 pages
Date of creation: 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ieb:wpaper:2010/10/doc2010-41

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Related research

Keywords: City size distribution; Zipf’s law; rank-size rule; log-normal distribution;

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Cited by:
  1. Behrens, Kristian & Duranton, Gilles & Robert-Nicoud, Frédéric, 2010. "Productive cities: Sorting, selection and agglomeration," CEPR Discussion Papers 7922, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. David Albouy & Bryan Stuart, 2014. "Urban Population and Amenities," NBER Working Papers 19919, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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