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Gibrat’s Law for Cities Revisited

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  • Rafael Gonz√°lez-Val
  • Luis Lanaspa
  • Fernando Sanz

Abstract

The aim of this work is to test empirically the validity of Gibrat’s Law in the growth of cities, using data for all the twentieth century of the complete distribution of cities (without any size restrictions) in three countries: the US, Spain and Italy. For this we use different techniques (parametric and non-parametric methods), obtaining mixed evidence. Our results confirm that Gibrat’s law for means holds only as a long-run average. In the short term, considered decade by decade, we find that growth was divergent in all three countries. Despite this, the distribution of growth in the cities can be approached as a lognormal. In the long term, panel data unit root tests confirm the validity of Gibrat’s Law in the upper tail distribution. Finally we find evidence in favour of a weak Gibrat's Law (size affects the variance of the growth process but not its mean) when using non-parametric methods which relate the growth rate to city size.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by European Regional Science Association in its series ERSA conference papers with number ersa10p199.

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Date of creation: Sep 2011
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Handle: RePEc:wiw:wiwrsa:ersa10p199

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  1. Glaeser, Edward L. & Shapiro, Jesse M., 2002. "Cities and Warfare: The Impact of Terrorism on Urban Form," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(2), pages 205-224, March.
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  3. Pesaran, M.H., 2003. "A Simple Panel Unit Root Test in the Presence of Cross Section Dependence," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 0346, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
  4. Maarten Bosker & Steven Brakman & Harry Garretsen & Marc Schramm, 2006. "A Century of Shocks: The Evolution of the German City Size Distribution 1925 – 1999," CESifo Working Paper Series 1728, CESifo Group Munich.
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  9. Anindya Banerjee & Massimiliano Marcellino & Chiara Osbat, . "Testing for PPP: Should We Use Panel Methods?," Working Papers 186, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
  10. Paul Cheshire & Stefano Magrini, 2005. "Population Growth in European Cities: weather matters – but only nationally," Urban/Regional 0506009, EconWPA.
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  12. Steven Brakman & Harry Garretsen & Marc Schramm, 2002. "The Strategic Bombing of German Cities during World War II and its Impact on City Growth," CESifo Working Paper Series 808, CESifo Group Munich.
  13. Gabaix, Xavier & Ioannides, Yannis M., 2004. "The evolution of city size distributions," Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, in: J. V. Henderson & J. F. Thisse (ed.), Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 53, pages 2341-2378 Elsevier.
  14. Duncan Black & Vernon Henderson, 2003. "Urban evolution in the USA," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 3(4), pages 343-372, October.
  15. Rafael González‐Val, 2010. "The Evolution Of U.S. City Size Distribution From A Long‐Term Perspective (1900–2000)," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(5), pages 952-972, December.
  16. White, Halbert, 1980. "A Heteroskedasticity-Consistent Covariance Matrix Estimator and a Direct Test for Heteroskedasticity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(4), pages 817-38, May.
  17. Gilles Duranton, 2007. "Urban Evolutions: The Fast, the Slow, and the Still," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(1), pages 197-221, March.
  18. 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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