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The Size Distribution across all "Cities": A Unifying Approach

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  • Kristian Giesen
  • Jens Suedekum

Abstract

In this paper we show that the double Pareto lognormal (DPLN) parameterization provides an excellent fit to the overall US city size distribution, regardless of whether “cities” are administratively defined Census places or economically defined area clusters. We then consider an economic model that combines scale-independent urban growth (Gibrat’s law) with endogenous city creation. City sizes converge to a DPLN distribution in this model, which is much better in line with the data than previous urban growth frameworks that predict a lognormal or a Pareto city size distribution (Zipf’s law).

Suggested Citation

  • Kristian Giesen & Jens Suedekum, 2012. "The Size Distribution across all "Cities": A Unifying Approach," CESifo Working Paper Series 3730, CESifo.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_3730
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    16. 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.
    17. Nitsch, Volker, 2005. "Zipf zipped," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(1), pages 86-100, January.
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    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. Kwong, Hok Shing & Nadarajah, Saralees, 2019. "A note on “Pareto tails and lognormal body of US cities size distribution”," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 513(C), pages 55-62.
    4. 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.
    5. Ferdinand Rauch, 2014. "Cities as spatial clusters," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 14(4), pages 759-773.
    6. 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.
    7. 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.
    8. 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.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Zipf's law; Gibrat's law; city size distributions; double Pareto-Lognormal;
    All these keywords.

    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)
    • O40 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - General

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