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The Size Distribution Across All 'Cities': A Unifying Approach

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  • Kristian Giesen
  • Jens Suedekum

Abstract

Older cities in the US tend to be larger than younger ones. The distribution of city sizes is, therefore, systematically related to the country's city age distribution. We introduce endogenous city creation into a dynamic economic model of an urban system. All cities exhibit the same long-run growth rate (Gibrat's law), but young cities initially grow faster. The double Pareto lognormal (DPLN) emerges as the city size distribution in our model. The DPLN unifies the lognormal and the Pareto distribution (Zipf's law), and closely fits US city size data. This evidence can potentially resolve several debates from the recent literature.

Suggested Citation

  • Kristian Giesen & Jens Suedekum, 2012. "The Size Distribution Across All 'Cities': A Unifying Approach," SERC Discussion Papers 0122, Spatial Economics Research Centre, LSE.
  • Handle: RePEc:cep:sercdp:0122
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    1. 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.
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    Cited by:

    1. Alexander S. Skorobogatov, 2014. "An Ongoing Reversal Of Fortune Among Russian Cities: City Age, Natural Resources, And Changing Spatial Income Distribution," HSE Working papers WP BRP 60/EC/2014, National Research University Higher School of Economics.
    2. Valente J. Matlaba & Mark J. Holmes & Philip McCann & Jacques Poot, 2013. "A Century Of The Evolution Of The Urban System In Brazil," Review of Urban & Regional Development Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 25(3), pages 129-151, November.
    3. Ferdinand Rauch, 2014. "Cities as spatial clusters," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 14(4), pages 759-773.
    4. Rafael González-Val & Arturo Ramos & Fernando Sanz-Gracia & María Vera-Cabello, 2015. "Size distributions for all cities: Which one is best?," Papers in Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 94(1), pages 177-196, March.
    5. Gilberto Seravalli, 2016. "Dimensioni e crescita delle città in Europa: l’incertezza danneggia soprattutto le città medie," SCIENZE REGIONALI, FrancoAngeli Editore, vol. 2016(2), pages 91-108.
    6. Kristian GIESEN & Jens SÜDEKUM, 2012. "The French Overall City Size Distribution," Region et Developpement, Region et Developpement, LEAD, Universite du Sud - Toulon Var, vol. 36, pages 107-126.
    7. González-Val, Rafael & Ramos, Arturo & Sanz-Gracia, Fernando, 2010. "On the best functions to describe city size distributions," MPRA Paper 21921, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Zipfs law; Gibrats law; city size distributions; city age; DPLN distribution;

    JEL classification:

    • R11 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Regional Economic Activity: Growth, Development, Environmental Issues, and Changes
    • R12 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Size and Spatial Distributions of Regional Economic Activity; Interregional Trade (economic geography)

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