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Zipf's Law for cities: a cross-country investigation

  • Soo, Kwok Tong

This paper assesses the empirical validity of Zipf¿s Law for cities, using new data on 73countries and two estimation methods ¿ OLS and the Hill estimator. With either estimator,we reject Zipf¿s Law far more often than we would expect based on random chance; for 53out of 73 countries using OLS, and for 30 out of 73 countries using the Hill estimator. TheOLS estimates of the Pareto exponent are roughly normally distributed, but those of the Hillestimator are bimodal. Variations in the value of the Pareto exponent are better explained bypolitical economy variables than by economic geography variables.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Regional Science and Urban Economics.

Volume (Year): 35 (2005)
Issue (Month): 3 (May)
Pages: 239-263

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Handle: RePEc:eee:regeco:v:35:y:2005:i:3:p:239-263
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  1. Robert Axtell and Richard Florida, 2001. "Emergent Cities: A Microeconomic Explanation for Zipf's Law," Computing in Economics and Finance 2001 154, Society for Computational Economics.
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  18. John Luke Gallup & Jeffrey D. Sachs & Andrew Mellinger, 1999. "Geography and Economic Development," CID Working Papers 1, Center for International Development at Harvard University.
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