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The size distribution across all “cities”: a unifying approach

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  • Kristian Giesen

    ()
    (University of Duisburg-Essen)

  • Jens Suedekum

    ()
    (University of Duisburg-Essen)

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 Institut d'Economia de Barcelona (IEB) in its series Working Papers with number 2012/2.

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Length: 20 pages
Date of creation: 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ieb:wpaper:2012/3/doc2012-2

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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. Kwok Tong Soo, 2004. "Zipf's law for cities: a cross country investigation," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library 19947, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  2. Wen‐Tai Hsu, 2012. "Central Place Theory and City Size Distribution," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, Royal Economic Society, vol. 122(563), pages 903-932, 09.
  3. Esteban Rossi-Hansberg & Mark L. J. Wright, 2006. "Urban structure and growth," Staff Report, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis 381, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  4. Xavier Gabaix, 1999. "Zipf'S Law For Cities: An Explanation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 114(3), pages 739-767, August.
  5. Henderson, J. Vernon & Wang, Hyoung Gun, 2007. "Urbanization and city growth: The role of institutions," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 283-313, May.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Cuberes, David, 2011. "Sequential city growth: Empirical evidence," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(2), pages 229-239, March.
  9. Hern�n D. Rozenfeld & Diego Rybski & Xavier Gabaix & Hern�n A. Makse, 2011. "The Area and Population of Cities: New Insights from a Different Perspective on Cities," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 101(5), pages 2205-25, August.
  10. Nitsch, Volker, 2005. "Zipf zipped," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(1), pages 86-100, January.
  11. 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.
  12. Moshe Levy, 2009. "Gibrat's Law for (All) Cities: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 99(4), pages 1672-75, September.
  13. Cuberes, David, 2008. "A Model of Sequential City Growth," MPRA Paper 8431, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  14. Reed, William J., 2003. "The Pareto law of incomes—an explanation and an extension," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 319(C), pages 469-486.
  15. Yannis M. Ioannides & Spyros Skouras, 2009. "Gibrat's Law for (All) Cities: A Rejoinder," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University, Department of Economics, Tufts University 0740, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
  16. 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.
  17. Jan Eeckhout, 2004. "Gibrat's Law for (All) Cities," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 94(5), pages 1429-1451, December.
  18. Harris Dobkins, Linda & Ioannides, Yannis M., 2001. "Spatial interactions among U.S. cities: 1900-1990," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 31(6), pages 701-731, November.
  19. 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.
  20. J.V. Henderson, 1972. "The Sizes and Types of Cities," Working Papers, Queen's University, Department of Economics 75, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  21. William J. Reed, 2002. "On the Rank-Size Distribution for Human Settlements," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 42(1), pages 1-17.
  22. Jan Eeckhout, 2009. "Gibrat's Law for (All) Cities: Reply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 99(4), pages 1676-83, September.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Valente J. Matlaba & Mark Holmes & Philip McCann & Jacques Poot, 2011. "A Century of the Evolution of the Urban System in Brazil," Working Papers in Economics, University of Waikato, Department of Economics 11/12, University of Waikato, Department of Economics.
  2. Kristian GIESEN & Jens SÜDEKUM, 2012. "The French Overall City Size Distribution," Region et Developpement, Region et Developpement, LEAD, Universite du Sud - Toulon Var, 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, University of Oxford, Department of Economics 656, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  4. 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.
  5. Alexander S. Skorobogatov, 2014. "An Ongoing Reversal Of Fortune Among Russian Cities: City Age, Natural Resources, And Changing Spatial Income Distribution," HSE Working papers, National Research University Higher School of Economics WP BRP 60/EC/2014, National Research University Higher School of Economics.

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