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Zipf's Law for Cities in the Regions and the Country

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  • Giesen, Kristian

    () (University of Duisburg-Essen)

  • Suedekum, Jens

    () (Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf)

Abstract

The salient rank-size rule known as Zipf's law is not only satisfied for Germany's national urban hierarchy, but also for the city size distributions in single German regions. To analyze this phenomenon, we build on the insights by Gabaix (1999) that Zipf's law follows from a stochastic growth process. In particular, Gabaix shows that if the regions follow Gibrat's law, we should observe Zipf at both the regional and the national level. This theory has never been addressed empirically. Using non-parametric techniques we find that Gibrat's law holds in each German region, irrespective of how "regions" are defined. In other words, Gibrat's law and therefore Zipf's law tend to hold everywhere in space.

Suggested Citation

  • Giesen, Kristian & Suedekum, Jens, 2009. "Zipf's Law for Cities in the Regions and the Country," IZA Discussion Papers 3928, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp3928
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Eaton, Jonathan & Eckstein, Zvi, 1997. "Cities and growth: Theory and evidence from France and Japan," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(4-5), pages 443-474, August.
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    Keywords

    rank-size rule; Gibrat's law; city size distributions; city growth; Zipf's law;

    JEL classification:

    • R11 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Regional Economic Activity: Growth, Development, Environmental Issues, and Changes
    • O4 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity

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