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Zipf's law for cities: a cross country investigation

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  • Soo, Kwok Tong

Abstract

This paper assesses the empirical validity of Zipf¿s Law for cities, using new data on 73 countries and two estimation methods ¿ OLS and the Hill estimator. With either estimator, we reject Zipf¿s Law far more often than we would expect based on random chance; for 53 out of 73 countries using OLS, and for 30 out of 73 countries using the Hill estimator. The OLS estimates of the Pareto exponent are roughly normally distributed, but those of the Hill estimator are bimodal. Variations in the value of the Pareto exponent are better explained by political economy variables than by economic geography variables.

Suggested Citation

  • Soo, Kwok Tong, 2004. "Zipf's law for cities: a cross country investigation," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 19947, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  • Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:19947
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Cities; Zipfs Law; Pareto distribution; Hill estimator;

    JEL classification:

    • R12 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Size and Spatial Distributions of Regional Economic Activity; Interregional Trade (economic geography)
    • C16 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Econometric and Statistical Methods; Specific Distributions

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