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Zipf’s and Gibrat’s laws for migrations

  • Jesús Clemente


  • Rafael González-Val


  • Irene Olloqui


This paper analyses the evolution of the size distribution of the stock of emigrants in the period 1960-2000. Has the distribution of the stock of emigrants changed or has there been some convergence? This is the question discussed in this work. In particular, we are interested in testing the fulfillment of two empirical regularities studied in urban economics: Zipf’s law, which postulates that the product between the rank and size of a population is constant; and Gibrat’s law, witch states that growth rate of a variable is independent of its initial size. We use parametric and non-parametric methods and apply them to absolute (stock of emigrants) and relative (migration density, defined as the quotient between the stock of emigrants of a country and its total population)measurements.

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Article provided by Springer in its journal The Annals of Regional Science.

Volume (Year): 47 (2011)
Issue (Month): 1 (August)
Pages: 235-248

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Handle: RePEc:spr:anresc:v:47:y:2011:i:1:p:235-248
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  1. Andrew K. Rose, 2005. "Cities and Countries," NBER Working Papers 11762, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Spolaore, Enrico & Wacziarg, Romain, 2005. "Borders and Growth," CEPR Discussion Papers 5202, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Y Ioannides & Henry Overman, 2000. "Cross Sectional Evolution of the US City Size Distribution," CEP Discussion Papers dp0483, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  4. Jan Eeckhout, 2004. "Gibrat's Law for (All) Cities," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(5), pages 1429-1451, December.
  5. Yannis Menelaos Ioannides & Henry G. Overman, 2003. "Zipf’s law for cities : an empirical examination," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 583, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  6. Enrico Spolaore & Alberto Alesina & Romain Wacziarg, 2000. "Economic Integration and Political Disintegration," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(5), pages 1276-1296, December.
  7. Quah, Danny T., 1996. "Empirics for economic growth and convergence," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(6), pages 1353-1375, June.
  8. González-Val, Rafael & Sanso-Navarro, Marcos, 2008. "Gibrat’s law for countries," MPRA Paper 9733, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  9. Ghatak, Subrata & Levine, Paul & Price, Stephen Wheatley, 1996. " Migration Theories and Evidence: An Assessment," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 10(2), pages 159-98, June.
  10. 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.
  11. Carrington, William J & Detragiache, Enrica & Vishwanath, Tara, 1996. "Migration with Endogenous Moving Costs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(4), pages 909-30, September.
  12. 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.
  13. Larramona, Gemma & Sanso, Marcos, 2006. "Migration dynamics, growth and convergence," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 30(11), pages 2261-2279, November.
  14. Quah, Danny, 1993. "Galton's Fallacy and Tests of the Convergence Hypothesis," CEPR Discussion Papers 820, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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