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A scale-free transportation network explains the city-size distribution

  • Berliant, Marcus
  • Watanabe, Hiroki

Zipf’s law is one of the best-known empirical regularities of the city-size distribution. There is extensive research on the subject, where each city is treated symmetrically in terms of the cost of transactions with other cities. Recent developments in network theory facilitate the examination of an asymmetric transport network. Under the scale-free transport network framework, the chance of observing extremes becomes higher than the Gaussian distribution predicts and therefore it explains the emergence of large clusters. City-size distributions share the same pattern. This paper proposes a way to incorporate network structure into urban economic models and explains the city-size distribution as a result of transport cost between cities.

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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 34820.

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Date of creation: 17 Nov 2011
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:34820
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  1. 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.
  2. Behrens, Kristian & Mion, Giordano & Murata, Yasusada & Suedekum, Jens, 2013. "Spatial Frictions," IZA Discussion Papers 7175, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Angelo Mele, 2010. "A Structural Model of Segregation in Social Networks," Working Papers 10-16, NET Institute.
  4. Berliant, Marcus & Watanabe, Hiroki, 2009. "Explaining the size distribution of cities: x-treme economies," MPRA Paper 15191, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  5. Philip McCann, 2005. "Transport costs and new economic geography," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 5(3), pages 305-318, June.
  6. Matthew O. Jackson & Brian W. Rogers, 2007. "Meeting Strangers and Friends of Friends: How Random Are Social Networks?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(3), pages 890-915, June.
  7. Marcus Berliant & Hiroki Watanabe, 2015. "Explaining the size distribution of cities: Extreme economies," Quantitative Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 6(1), pages 153-187, 03.
  8. Duranton, Gilles, 2006. "Some foundations for Zipf's law: Product proliferation and local spillovers," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(4), pages 542-563, July.
  9. Duncan Black & Vernon Henderson, 2003. "Urban evolution in the USA," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 3(4), pages 343-372, October.
  10. M. E. J. Newman & D. J. Watts, 1999. "Renormalization Group Analysis of the Small-World Network Model," Working Papers 99-04-029, Santa Fe Institute.
  11. Jan Eeckhout, 2004. "Gibrat's Law for (All) Cities," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(5), pages 1429-1451, December.
  12. Jonathan Eaton & Samuel Kortum, 2002. "Technology, Geography, and Trade," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(5), pages 1741-1779, September.
  13. Nicholas Christakis & James Fowler & Guido Imbens & Karthik Kalyanaraman, 2010. "An empirical model for strategic network formation," CeMMAP working papers CWP16/10, Centre for Microdata Methods and Practice, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
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