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The evolution of the US urban structure from a long-run perspective (1900-2000)

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  • González-Val, Rafael

Abstract

This paper analyses the evolution of the size distribution of cities in the United States throughout the 20th century. In particular, we are interested in testing the fulfilment of two empirical regularities studied in urban economics: Zipf’s law, which postulates that the product between rank and size of a population is constant, and Gibrat’s law or the law of parallel growth, according to which the growth rate of a variable is independent of its initial size. For this parametrical and non-parametrical methods have been used. These laws have already been studied for the American case with the most populous cities or with MSAs. The main contribution of this work is the use of a new database with information on all the cities, thus covering the entire distribution. The results show that although if the sample is considered as a whole the fulfilment of Zipf’s law is rejected, Gibrat’s law is accepted for all the period considered.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 9732.

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Date of creation: 30 Nov 2007
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:9732

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Related research

Keywords: Zipf’s law; Gibrat’s law; city size distribution; urban growth;

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References

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  1. Xavier Gabaix & Yannis M. Ioannides, 2003. "The Evolution of City Size Distributions," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University, Department of Economics, Tufts University 0310, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
  2. 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.
  3. Yannis Menelaos Ioannides & Henry G. Overman, 2003. "Zipf’s law for cities : an empirical examination," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library 583, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  4. Quah, Danny, 1993. "Galton's Fallacy and Tests of the Convergence Hypothesis," CEPR Discussion Papers, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers 820, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Rose, Andrew K, 2005. "Cities and Countries," CEPR Discussion Papers, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers 5235, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Overman, Henry G. & Ioannides, Yannis M., 2001. "Cross-Sectional Evolution of the U.S. City Size Distribution," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(3), pages 543-566, May.
  7. Esteban Rossi-Hansberg & Mark L. J. Wright, 2003. "Urban structure and growth," Discussion Paper / Institute for Empirical Macroeconomics, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis 141, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  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, Oxford University Press, vol. 3(4), pages 343-372, October.
  10. 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.
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