IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

A century of shocks: The evolution of the German city size distribution 1925-1999

  • Bosker, Maarten
  • Brakman, Steven
  • Garretsen, Harry
  • Schramm, Marc

This paper uses empirical evidence on the evolution and structure of the West-German city size distribution to assess the relevance of three different theories of urban growth. The West-German case is of particular interest as Germany's urban system has been subject to some of history's largest (exogenous) shocks during the 20th century. A unique annual data set for 62 West-German cities that covers the period 1925-1999 allows for the identification of these shocks and provides evidence on the effects of these 'quasi-natural experiments' on the city size distribution as a whole as well as on each city separately. Our main findings are twofold. First, WWII has had a major and lasting impact on the city size distribution. Second, and heavily based upon the results of (panel) unit root tests that analyze the evolution of the individual cities that make up the West-German city size distribution, city growth is found to be trend stationary, which is not in line with Gibrat's Law of proportional effect. Overall, our findings are most consistent with theories emphasizing the role of increasing returns to scale for city growth.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/B6V89-4SHVSRF-1/2/e6c97a002af579fc8d079933bb2646c1
Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

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

Volume (Year): 38 (2008)
Issue (Month): 4 (July)
Pages: 330-347

as
in new window

Handle: RePEc:eee:regeco:v:38:y:2008:i:4:p:330-347
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/regec

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Jonathan Eaton & Zvi Eckstein, 1994. "Cities and Growth: Theory and Evidence from france and Japan," Boston University - Institute for Economic Development 36, Boston University, Institute for Economic Development.
  2. Overman, Henry G. & Ioannides, Yannis M., 2001. "Cross-Sectional Evolution of the U.S. City Size Distribution," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(3), pages 543-566, May.
  3. Kwok Tong Soo, 2004. "Zipf's law for cities: a cross country investigation," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 19947, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  4. Henderson, J V, 1974. "The Sizes and Types of Cities," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 64(4), pages 640-56, September.
  5. Xavier Gabaix, 1999. "Zipf'S Law For Cities: An Explanation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(3), pages 739-767, August.
  6. Quah, Danny, 1993. "Empirical cross-section dynamics in economic growth," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 37(2-3), pages 426-434, April.
  7. Stephen Redding & Daniel.M Sturm & Nikolaus Wolf, 2007. "History and industry location: evidence from German airports," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 3680, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  8. Perron, Pierre, 1997. "Further evidence on breaking trend functions in macroeconomic variables," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 80(2), pages 355-385, October.
  9. Nitsch, Volker, 2004. "Zipf zipped," Discussion Papers 2004/16, Free University Berlin, School of Business & Economics.
  10. Perron, Pierre, 1990. "Testing for a Unit Root in a Time Series with a Changing Mean," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 8(2), pages 153-62, April.
  11. Cavaliere, Giuseppe, 2005. "Limited Time Series With A Unit Root," Econometric Theory, Cambridge University Press, vol. 21(05), pages 907-945, October.
  12. Anderson, Gordon & Ge, Ying, 2005. "The size distribution of Chinese cities," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(6), pages 756-776, November.
  13. Perron, Pierre, 1989. "The Great Crash, the Oil Price Shock, and the Unit Root Hypothesis," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(6), pages 1361-1401, November.
  14. Bruce E. Hansen, 2000. "Sample Splitting and Threshold Estimation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 68(3), pages 575-604, May.
  15. Pasaran, M.H. & Im, K.S. & Shin, Y., 1995. "Testing for Unit Roots in Heterogeneous Panels," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 9526, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. Y Ioannides & Henry Overman, 2000. "Spatial Evolution of the US Urban System," CEP Discussion Papers dp0482, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  19. Bruce E. Hansen, 2001. "The New Econometrics of Structural Change: Dating Breaks in U.S. Labour Productivity," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(4), pages 117-128, Fall.
  20. Bosker, Maarten & Brakman, Steven & Garretsen, Harry & Schramm, Marc, 2007. "Looking for multiple equilibria when geography matters: German city growth and the WWII shock," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(1), pages 152-169, January.
  21. Dickey, David A & Fuller, Wayne A, 1981. "Likelihood Ratio Statistics for Autoregressive Time Series with a Unit Root," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 49(4), pages 1057-72, June.
  22. John Y. Campbell & Pierre Perron, 1991. "Pitfalls and Opportunities: What Macroeconomists Should Know About Unit Roots," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1991, Volume 6, pages 141-220 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  23. 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.
  24. Stephen Redding & Daniel M. Sturm, 2005. "The Costs of Remoteness: Evidence from German Division and Reunification," CEP Discussion Papers dp0688, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  25. Xavier Gabaix & Rustam Ibragimov, 2007. "Rank-1/2: A Simple Way to Improve the OLS Estimation of Tail Exponents," NBER Technical Working Papers 0342, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  26. Xavier Gabaix & Yannis M. Ioannides, 2003. "The Evolution of City Size Distributions," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University 0310, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
  27. Levin, Andrew & Lin, Chien-Fu & James Chu, Chia-Shang, 2002. "Unit root tests in panel data: asymptotic and finite-sample properties," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 108(1), pages 1-24, May.
  28. Sharma, Shalini, 2003. "Persistence and stability in city growth," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(2), pages 300-320, March.
  29. David E. Weinstein & Donald R. Davis, 2004. "Search for Multiple Equilibria in Urban Industrial Structure," Econometric Society 2004 North American Winter Meetings 639, Econometric Society.
  30. Harris Dobkins, Linda & Ioannides, Yannis M., 2001. "Spatial interactions among U.S. cities: 1900-1990," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(6), pages 701-731, November.
  31. John Sutton, 1997. "Gibrat's Legacy," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 35(1), pages 40-59, March.
  32. Ng, S. & Perron, P., 1994. "Unit Root Tests ARMA Models with Data Dependent Methods for the Selection of the Truncation Lag," Cahiers de recherche 9423, Centre interuniversitaire de recherche en économie quantitative, CIREQ.
  33. Jan Eeckhout, 2004. "Gibrat's Law for (All) Cities," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(5), pages 1429-1451, December.
  34. Perron, Pierre & Vogelsang, Timothy J, 1992. "Testing for a Unit Root in a Time Series with a Changing Mean: Corrections and Extensions," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 10(4), pages 467-70, October.
  35. Duncan Black & Vernon Henderson, 2003. "Urban evolution in the USA," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 3(4), pages 343-372, October.
  36. Hohenberg, Paul M., 2004. "The historical geography of European cities: An interpretive essay," 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 67, pages 3021-3052 Elsevier.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is featured on the following reading lists or Wikipedia pages:

  1. Historical Economic Geography

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:regeco:v:38:y:2008:i:4:p:330-347. 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: (Zhang, Lei)

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 references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link 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 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.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.