IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/aea/aecrev/v101y2011i5p2205-25.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

The Area and Population of Cities: New Insights from a Different Perspective on Cities

Author

Listed:
  • Hernán D. Rozenfeld
  • Diego Rybski
  • Xavier Gabaix
  • Hernán A. Makse

Abstract

The distribution of city populations has attracted much attention, in part because it constrains models of local growth. However, there is no consensus on the distribution below the very upper tail, because available data need to rely on "legal" rather than "economic" definitions for medium and small cities. To remedy this difficulty, we construct cities "from the bottom up" by clustering populated areas obtained from high-resolution data. We find that Zipf's law for population holds for cities as small as 5,000 inhabitants in Great Britain and 12,000 inhabitants in the US. We also find a Zipf's law for areas. JEL: R11, R12, R23

Suggested Citation

  • Hernán D. Rozenfeld & Diego Rybski & Xavier Gabaix & Hernán A. Makse, 2011. "The Area and Population of Cities: New Insights from a Different Perspective on Cities," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(5), pages 2205-2225, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:101:y:2011:i:5:p:2205-25
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/aer.101.5.2205
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to AEA members and institutional subscribers.

    File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/aer/data/aug2011/20090989_data.zip
    File Function: dataset accompanying article
    Download Restriction: no

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version below or search for a different version of it.

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Ciccone, Antonio & Hall, Robert E, 1996. "Productivity and the Density of Economic Activity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(1), pages 54-70, March.
    2. Glaeser, Edward L. & Scheinkman, JoseA. & Shleifer, Andrei, 1995. "Economic growth in a cross-section of cities," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(1), pages 117-143, August.
    3. Eaton, Jonathan & Eckstein, Zvi, 1997. "Cities and growth: Theory and evidence from France and Japan," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(4-5), pages 443-474, August.
    4. Esteban Rossi-Hansberg & Mark L. J. Wright, 2007. "Urban Structure and Growth," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 74(2), pages 597-624.
    5. Edward L. Glaeser, 1998. "Are Cities Dying?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(2), pages 139-160, Spring.
    6. Julian D. Marshall, 2007. "Urban Land Area and Population Growth: A New Scaling Relationship for Metropolitan Expansion," Urban Studies, Urban Studies Journal Limited, vol. 44(10), pages 1889-1904, September.
    7. Robert E. Hall & Charles I. Jones, "undated". "The Productivity of Nations," Working Papers 96012, Stanford University, Department of Economics.
    8. 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.
    9. Erzo G. J. Luttmer, 2007. "Selection, Growth, and the Size Distribution of Firms," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(3), pages 1103-1144.
    10. Hernán D. Rozenfeld & Diego Rybski & Xavier Gabaix & Hernán A. Makse, 2011. "The Area and Population of Cities: New Insights from a Different Perspective on Cities," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(5), pages 2205-2225, August.
    11. 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.
    12. Xavier Gabaix & Rustam Ibragimov, 2011. "Rank - 1 / 2: A Simple Way to Improve the OLS Estimation of Tail Exponents," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 29(1), pages 24-39, January.
    13. Duranton, Gilles, 2006. "Some foundations for Zipf's law: Product proliferation and local spillovers," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(4), pages 542-563, July.
    14. Gilles Duranton & Henry G. Overman, 2005. "Testing for Localization Using Micro-Geographic Data," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 72(4), pages 1077-1106.
    15. Moshe Levy & Sorin Solomon, 1996. "Power Laws Are Logarithmic Boltzmann Laws," International Journal of Modern Physics C (IJMPC), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 7(04), pages 595-601.
    16. Jan Eeckhout, 2009. "Gibrat's Law for (All) Cities: Reply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(4), pages 1676-1683, September.
    17. Guy Michaels & Ferdinand Rauch & Stephen J. Redding, 2012. "Urbanization and Structural Transformation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 127(2), pages 535-586.
    18. Soo, Kwok Tong, 2005. "Zipf's Law for cities: a cross-country investigation," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(3), pages 239-263, May.
    19. Stijn Van Nieuwerburgh & Pierre-Olivier Weill, 2010. "Why Has House Price Dispersion Gone Up?," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 77(4), pages 1567-1606.
    20. Marcy Burchfield & Henry G. Overman & Diego Puga & Matthew A. Turner, 2006. "Causes of Sprawl: A Portrait from Space," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(2), pages 587-633.
    21. repec:hoo:wpaper:e-95-4 is not listed on IDEAS
    22. Thomas J. Holmes & Sanghoon Lee, 2010. "Cities as Six-by-Six-Mile Squares: Zipf's Law?," NBER Chapters, in: Agglomeration Economics, pages 105-131, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    23. Glaeser, Edward L & Hedi D. Kallal & Jose A. Scheinkman & Andrei Shleifer, 1992. "Growth in Cities," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(6), pages 1126-1152, December.
      • Edward L. Glaeser & Hedi D. Kallal & Jose A. Scheinkman & Andrei Shleifer, 1991. "Growth in Cities," NBER Working Papers 3787, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
      • Glaeser, Edward Ludwig & Kallal, Hedi D. & Scheinkman, Jose A. & Shleifer, Andrei, 1992. "Growth in Cities," Scholarly Articles 3451309, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    24. Andersson, Claes & Hellervik, Alexander & Lindgren, Kristian, 2005. "A spatial network explanation for a hierarchy of urban power laws," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 345(1), pages 227-244.
    25. Robert E. Lucas & Esteban Rossi-Hansberg, 2002. "On the Internal Structure of Cities," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(4), pages 1445-1476, July.
    26. Xavier Gabaix, 2009. "Power Laws in Economics and Finance," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 1(1), pages 255-294, May.
    27. Brakman,Steven & Garretsen,Harry & van Marrewijk,Charles, 2009. "The New Introduction to Geographical Economics," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521875325, December.
    28. Kevin A. Bryan & Brian D. Minton & Pierre-Daniel G. Sarte, 2007. "The evolution of city population density in the United States," Economic Quarterly, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, vol. 93(Fall), pages 341-360.
    29. Xavier Gabaix, 1999. "Zipf's Law for Cities: An Explanation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(3), pages 739-767.
    30. Yannis M. Ioannides & Spyros Skouras, 2009. "Gibrat's Law for (All) Cities: A Rejoinder," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University 0740, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
    31. Donald R. Davis & David E. Weinstein, 2002. "Bones, Bombs, and Break Points: The Geography of Economic Activity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1269-1289, December.
    32. Xavier Gabaix, 1999. "Zipf's Law and the Growth of Cities," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(2), pages 129-132, May.
    33. Tomoya Mori & Koji Nishikimi & Tony E. Smith, 2008. "The Number‐Average Size Rule: A New Empirical Relationship Between Industrial Location And City Size," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 48(1), pages 165-211, February.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Duranton, Gilles & Puga, Diego, 2014. "The Growth of Cities," Handbook of Economic Growth, in: Philippe Aghion & Steven Durlauf (ed.), Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 5, pages 781-853, Elsevier.
    2. Behrens, Kristian & Robert-Nicoud, Frédéric, 2015. "Agglomeration Theory with Heterogeneous Agents," Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, in: Gilles Duranton & J. V. Henderson & William C. Strange (ed.), Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, edition 1, volume 5, chapter 0, pages 171-245, Elsevier.
    3. Valente J. Matlaba & Mark J. Holmes & Philip McCann & Jacques Poot, 2013. "A Century Of The Evolution Of The Urban System In Brazil," Review of Urban & Regional Development Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 25(3), pages 129-151, November.
    4. Wen-Tai Hsu & Tomoya Mori & Tony E. Smith, 2014. "Spatial Patterns and Size Distributions of Cities," KIER Working Papers 882, Kyoto University, Institute of Economic Research.
    5. repec:wiw:wiwrsa:ersa14p34 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Stephen J. Redding, 2010. "The Empirics Of New Economic Geography," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(1), pages 297-311, February.
    7. Lee, Sanghoon & Li, Qiang, 2013. "Uneven landscapes and city size distributions," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 78(C), pages 19-29.
    8. Rafael Gonz�lez-Val & Luis Lanaspa, 2016. "Patterns in US Urban Growth, 1790-2000," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 50(2), pages 289-309, February.
    9. Rafael GONZÀLEZ-VAL, 2012. "Zipf’S Law: Main Issues In Empirical Work," Region et Developpement, Region et Developpement, LEAD, Universite du Sud - Toulon Var, vol. 36, pages 147-164.
    10. Ferdinand Rauch, 2014. "Cities as spatial clusters," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 14(4), pages 759-773.
    11. Arshad, Sidra & Hu, Shougeng & Ashraf, Badar Nadeem, 2019. "Zipf’s law, the coherence of the urban system and city size distribution: Evidence from Pakistan," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 513(C), pages 87-103.
    12. Rafael González-Val, 2019. "US city-size distribution and space," Spatial Economic Analysis, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 14(3), pages 283-300, July.
    13. Breinlich, Holger & Ottaviano, Gianmarco I.P. & Temple, Jonathan R.W., 2014. "Regional Growth and Regional Decline," Handbook of Economic Growth, in: Philippe Aghion & Steven Durlauf (ed.), Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 4, pages 683-779, Elsevier.
    14. Xavier Gabaix, 2009. "Power Laws in Economics and Finance," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 1(1), pages 255-294, May.
    15. Redding, Stephen J., 2009. "Economic Geography: a Review of the Theoretical and Empirical Literature," CEPR Discussion Papers 7126, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    16. Tomoya Mori & Tony E. Smith, 2009. "A Reconsideration of the NAS Rule from an Industrial Agglomeration Perspective," KIER Working Papers 669, Kyoto University, Institute of Economic Research.
    17. Ho Yeon KIM & Petra de Jong & Jan Rouwendal & Aleid Brouwer, 2012. "Shrinking population and the urban hierarchy [Housing preferences and attribute importance among Dutch older adults: a conjoint choice experiment]," ERSA conference papers ersa12p350, European Regional Science Association.
    18. repec:esx:essedp:729 is not listed on IDEAS
    19. Guy Michaels & Ferdinand Rauch & Stephen J. Redding, 2012. "Urbanization and Structural Transformation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 127(2), pages 535-586.
    20. Ioannides, Yannis M. & Zhang, Junfu, 2017. "Walled cities in late imperial China," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(C), pages 71-88.
    21. Gilles DURANTON, 2012. "La Croissance Urbaine : Déterminismes Vs Bruit," Region et Developpement, Region et Developpement, LEAD, Universite du Sud - Toulon Var, vol. 36, pages 11-30.
    22. Morris A. Davis & Jonas D. M. Fisher & Toni M. Whited, 2014. "Macroeconomic Implications of Agglomeration," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 82(2), pages 731-764, March.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D30 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - General
    • D51 - Microeconomics - - General Equilibrium and Disequilibrium - - - Exchange and Production Economies
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers
    • R12 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Size and Spatial Distributions of Regional Economic Activity; Interregional Trade (economic geography)

    Lists

    This item is featured on the following reading lists, Wikipedia, or ReplicationWiki pages:
    1. The Area and Population of Cities: New Insights from a Different Perspective on Cities (AER 2011) in ReplicationWiki

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:101:y:2011:i:5:p:2205-25. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Michael P. Albert). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/aeaaaea.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.