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On the best functions to describe city size distributions

Author

Listed:
  • González-Val, Rafael
  • Ramos, Arturo
  • Sanz-Gracia, Fernando

Abstract

This paper analyses in detail the features offered by a function which is practically new to Urban Economics, the q-exponential, in describing city size distributions. We highlight two contributions. First, we propose a new and simple procedure for estimating their parameters. Second, and more importantly, we explain the characteristics associated with two traditional graphic methods (Zipf plots and cumulative density functions) for discriminating between functions. We apply them to the lognormal and q-exponential, justifying them as the best functions for explaining the entire distribution, and that the relationship between them is of complementarity.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:21921
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Jan Eeckhout, 2004. "Gibrat's Law for (All) Cities," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(5), pages 1429-1451, December.
    2. Ioannides, Yannis M. & Overman, Henry G., 2003. "Zipf's law for cities: an empirical examination," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(2), pages 127-137, March.
    3. Giesen, Kristian & Suedekum, Jens, 2012. "The size distribution across all "Cities": a unifying approach," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 59252, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    4. Sharma, Shalini, 2003. "Persistence and stability in city growth," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(2), pages 300-320, March.
    5. Rosen, Kenneth T. & Resnick, Mitchel, 1980. "The size distribution of cities: An examination of the Pareto law and primacy," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(2), pages 165-186, September.
    6. Duncan Black & Vernon Henderson, 2003. "Urban evolution in the USA," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 3(4), pages 343-372, October.
    7. Cheshire, Paul, 1999. "Trends in sizes and structures of urban areas," Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics,in: P. C. Cheshire & E. S. Mills (ed.), Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 35, pages 1339-1373 Elsevier.
    8. Paul Cheshire & Stefano Magrini, 2006. "Population growth in European cities: Weather matters - but only nationally," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 40(1), pages 23-37.
    9. Xavier Gabaix, 1999. "Zipf's Law for Cities: An Explanation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(3), pages 739-767.
    10. William J. Reed, 2002. "On the Rank-Size Distribution for Human Settlements," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 42(1), pages 1-17.
    11. Krugman, Paul, 1996. "Confronting the Mystery of Urban Hierarchy," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 10(4), pages 399-418, December.
    12. Gabaix, Xavier & Ioannides, Yannis M., 2004. "The evolution of city size distributions," Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics,in: J. V. Henderson & J. F. Thisse (ed.), Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 53, pages 2341-2378 Elsevier.
    13. Jan Eeckhout, 2009. "Gibrat's Law for (All) Cities: Reply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(4), pages 1676-1683, September.
    14. Soo, Kwok Tong, 2005. "Zipf's Law for cities: a cross-country investigation," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(3), pages 239-263, May.
    15. Rafael González-Val & Luis Lanaspa & Fernando Sanz, 2011. "Gibrat's Law for Cities Revisited," ERSA conference papers ersa10p199, European Regional Science Association.
    16. Yannis M. Ioannides & Spyros Skouras, 2009. "Gibrat's Law for (All) Cities: A Rejoinder," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University 0740, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    city size distribution; q-exponential; lognormal;

    JEL classification:

    • C16 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Econometric and Statistical Methods; Specific Distributions
    • C13 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Estimation: General
    • R00 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General - - - General

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