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Deviations from Zipf’s Law for American Cities

Listed author(s):
  • Rafael González-Val


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    This paper presents a simple method for calculating deviations between actual city size and the size which would correspond to it with a Pareto exponent equal to one (Zipf’s law). The results show two differentiated behaviours: most cities (80.25 per cent) present a greater size than that which would fulfil Zipf’s law, while small cities (19.75 per cent) tend to be too small. The aim of the paper is to analyse the distribution element by element, using data about city characteristics from all American cities in 2000, and to explain the deviation between the size predicted by Zipf’s law and the actual size of each city. To do this, a multinomial logit model is used. The most important variables affecting the probability of a city presenting a negative or positive deviation are per capita income, human capital levels and the percentage of the population employed in some sectors.

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    Article provided by Urban Studies Journal Limited in its journal Urban Studies.

    Volume (Year): 48 (2011)
    Issue (Month): 5 (April)
    Pages: 1017-1035

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    Handle: RePEc:sae:urbstu:v:48:y:2011:i:5:p:1017-1035
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