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Gibrat’s Law and the British Industrial Revolution

  • Klein, Alexander

    (University of Kent)

  • Leunig, Tim

    (London School of Economics)

This paper examines Gibrat’s law in England and Wales between 1801 and 1911using a unique data set covering the entire settlement size distribution.We find that Gibrat’s law broadly holds even in the face of population doubling every fifty years,an industrial and transportrevolution, and the absence of zoning laws to constrain growth. The result is strongest for the later period, and in counties most affected by the industrial revolution. The exception were villages in areas bypassed by the industrial revolution.We argue that agglomeration externalities balanced urban disamenities such as commuting costs and poor living conditions to ensure steady growth of many places, rather than exceptional growth of few.

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Paper provided by Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE) in its series CAGE Online Working Paper Series with number 146.

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Date of creation: 2013
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Handle: RePEc:cge:wacage:146
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  1. Michaels, Guy & Rauch, Ferdinand & Redding, Stephen J., 2008. "Urbanization and Structural Transformation," CEPR Discussion Papers 7016, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Henry G. Overman & Yannis Ioannides, 2000. "Zipf's law for cities: an empirical examination," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 20136, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  3. Jan Eeckhout, 2004. "Gibrat's Law for (All) Cities," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(5), pages 1429-1451, December.
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  5. John Sutton, 1997. "Gibrat's Legacy," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 35(1), pages 40-59, March.
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  8. Klein, Alexander; Crafts, Nicholas, 2010. "Making Sense of the Manufacturing Belt: Determinants of U.S. Industrial Location, 1880-1920," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 04, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
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  10. Cameron, Gavin & Muellbauer, John, 1998. "The Housing Market and Regional Commuting and Migration Choices," CEPR Discussion Papers 1945, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  12. Tim Leunig, 2005. "Time is money: a re-assessment of the passenger social savings from Victorian British railways," Economic History Working Papers 22551, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
  13. 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.
  14. Xavier Gabaix, 1999. "Zipf's Law for Cities: An Explanation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(3), pages 739-767.
  15. J. R. Wordie, 1983. "The Chronology of English Enclosure, 1500-1914," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 36(4), pages 483-505, November.
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  17. Henderson, J V, 1974. "The Sizes and Types of Cities," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 64(4), pages 640-56, September.
  18. O'Rourke, Kevin H. & Williamson, Jeffrey G., 2004. "Once more: When did globalisation begin?," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 8(01), pages 109-117, April.
  19. Williamson,Jeffrey G., 1990. "Coping with City Growth during the British Industrial Revolution," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521364805, June.
  20. E.H. Hunt & S.J. Pam, 1997. "Prices and structural response in English agriculture, 1873–1896," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 50(3), pages 477-505, 08.
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