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Hierarchy in social organization


  • Buldyrev, S.V
  • Dokholyan, N.V
  • Erramilli, S
  • Hong, M
  • Kim, J.Y
  • Malescio, G
  • Stanley, H.E


We find that area and population distributions of nations follow an inverse power-law, as is known for cities, but with a different exponent. To interpret this result, we develop a growth model based on the geometrical properties of partitioning of the plane. The substantial agreement between the model and the actual nation distributions motivates the hypothesis that the distribution of aggregates of organisms is related to land partitioning. To test this hypothesis we follow the development of bacterial colonies of Escherichia coli, which, compared to humans, are on a completely different level of complexity. We find that the distributions of E. coli colonies follow an inverse power law with exponent similar to that of nations.

Suggested Citation

  • Buldyrev, S.V & Dokholyan, N.V & Erramilli, S & Hong, M & Kim, J.Y & Malescio, G & Stanley, H.E, 2003. "Hierarchy in social organization," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 330(3), pages 653-659.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:phsmap:v:330:y:2003:i:3:p:653-659 DOI: 10.1016/j.physa.2003.09.041

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. 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.
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    Cited by:

    1. Crawford, G. Christopher & Aguinis, Herman & Lichtenstein, Benyamin & Davidsson, Per & McKelvey, Bill, 2015. "Power law distributions in entrepreneurship: Implications for theory and research," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 30(5), pages 696-713.
    2. Buldyrev, Sergey V. & Pammolli, Fabio & Riccaboni, Massimo & Yamasaki, Kazuko & Fu, Dongfeng & Matia, Kaushik & Stanley, H. Eugene, 2006. "A Generalized Preferential Attachment Model for Business Firms Growth Rates: II. Mathematical Treatment," MPRA Paper 15980, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Yamasaki, Kazuko & Matia, Kaushik & Buldyrev, Sergey V. & Fu, Dongfeng & Pammolli, Fabio & Riccaboni, Massimo & Stanley, H. Eugene, 2004. "Preferential attachment and growth dynamics in complex systems," MPRA Paper 15908, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 06 Feb 2006.


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