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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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File URL: https://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/34820/1/MPRA_paper_34820.pdf
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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. Angelo Mele, 2010. "A structural model of segregation in social networks," CeMMAP working papers CWP32/10, Centre for Microdata Methods and Practice, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  2. Berliant, Marcus & Watanabe, Hiroki, 2008. "Explaining the size distribution of cities: x-treme economies," MPRA Paper 8410, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  3. Calvo-Armengol, Antoni & Zenou, Yves, 2005. "Job matching, social network and word-of-mouth communication," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(3), pages 500-522, May.
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  7. Duncan Black & Vernon Henderson, 2003. "Urban evolution in the USA," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 3(4), pages 343-372, October.
  8. Esteban Rossi-Hansberg & Mark L. J. Wright, 2003. "Urban structure and growth," Discussion Paper / Institute for Empirical Macroeconomics 141, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  9. Philip McCann, 2005. "Transport costs and new economic geography," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 5(3), pages 305-318, June.
  10. Bergstrand, Jeffrey H, 1985. "The Gravity Equation in International Trade: Some Microeconomic Foundations and Empirical Evidence," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 67(3), pages 474-81, August.
  11. Behrens, Kristian & Mion, Giordano & Murata, Yasusada & Suedekum, Jens, 2014. "Spatial frictions," DICE Discussion Papers 160, Düsseldorf Institute for Competition Economics (DICE), University of Düsseldorf.
  12. Kwok Tong Soo, 2004. "Zipfs Law for Cities: A Cross Country Investigation," CEP Discussion Papers dp0641, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  13. Jonathan Eaton & Samuel Kortum, 2002. "Technology, Geography, and Trade," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(5), pages 1741-1779, September.
  14. Jan Eeckhout, 2004. "Gibrat's Law for (All) Cities," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(5), pages 1429-1451, December.
  15. 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.
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