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Zipf zipped

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  • Nitsch, Volker

Abstract

In this paper, I provide a quantitative review of the empirical literature on Zipf's law for cities; the meta-analysis combines 515 estimates from 29 studies. I find that the combined estimate of the Zipf coefficient is significantly larger than 1.0. This finding implies that cities are on average more evenly distributed than suggested by (a strict interpretation of) Zipf's law. I also identify several features that account for differences across the individual point estimates. --

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Free University Berlin, School of Business & Economics in its series Discussion Papers with number 2004/16.

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Date of creation: 2004
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Handle: RePEc:zbw:fubsbe:200416

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Keywords: Zipf's law; size distribution of cities; rank size rule; meta-analysis;

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References

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  1. Cheshire, Paul, 1999. "Trends in sizes and structures of urban areas," Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, in: P. C. Cheshire & E. S. Mills (ed.), Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 35, pages 1339-1373 Elsevier.
  2. 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.
  3. Xavier Gabaix, 1999. "Zipf'S Law For Cities: An Explanation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(3), pages 739-767, August.
  4. 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.
  5. T. D. Stanley, 2001. "Wheat from Chaff: Meta-analysis as Quantitative Literature Review," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(3), pages 131-150, Summer.
  6. Tim Jeppesen & John A. List & Henk Folmer, 2002. "Environmental Regulations and New Plant Location Decisions: Evidence from a Meta-Analysis," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 42(1), pages 19-49.
  7. Krugman, Paul, 1995. "Innovation and agglomeration: Two parables suggested by city-size distributions," Japan and the World Economy, Elsevier, vol. 7(4), pages 371-390, November.
  8. Ioannides, Yannis M. & Overman, Henry G., 2003. "Zipf's law for cities: an empirical examination," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(2), pages 127-137, March.
  9. Henderson, Vernon, 1995. "Innovation and agglomeration: Two parables suggested by city-size distributions: Comment," Japan and the World Economy, Elsevier, vol. 7(4), pages 391-393, November.
  10. E J Malecki, 1980. "Growth and change in the analysis of rank - size distributions: empirical findings," Environment and Planning A, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 12(1), pages 41-52, January.
  11. Gorg, Holger & Strobl, Eric, 2001. "Multinational Companies and Productivity Spillovers: A Meta-analysis," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(475), pages F723-39, November.
  12. Duncan Black & Vernon Henderson, 2003. "Urban evolution in the USA," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 3(4), pages 343-372, October.
  13. Parr, John B., 1985. "A note on the size distribution of cities over time," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 199-212, September.
  14. Mino, Kazuo, 1995. "Innovation and agglomeration: Two parables suggested by city-size distributions: Comment," Japan and the World Economy, Elsevier, vol. 7(4), pages 395-397, November.
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