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A new framework for the US city size distribution: Empirical evidence and theory

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

We study the US city size distribution using the Census places data, without size restriction, for the period (1900-2010). Also, we use the recently introduced US City Clustering Algorithm (CCA) data for 1991 and 2000. We compare the lognormal, two distributions named after Ioannides and Skouras (2013) and the double Pareto lognormal with two newly introduced distributions. The empirical results are overwhelming: One of the new distributions widely outperform any of the previously used density functions for each type of data. We also develop a theory which generates the new distributions based on the standard geometric Brownian motion for the population in the short term. We propose some extensions of the theory in order to deal with the long term empirical features.

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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 52190.

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Date of creation: 13 Dec 2013
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:52190
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  1. 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.
  2. Reed, William J., 2003. "The Pareto law of incomes—an explanation and an extension," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 319(C), pages 469-486.
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  8. Ioannides, Yannis & Skouras, Spyros, 2013. "US city size distribution: Robustly Pareto, but only in the tail," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 73(1), pages 18-29.
  9. González-Val, Rafael & Ramos, Arturo & Sanz, Fernando & Vera-Cabello, María, 2013. "Size Distributions for All Cities: Which One is Best?," MPRA Paper 44314, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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  12. González-Val, Rafael & Ramos, Arturo & Sanz-Gracia, Fernando, 2013. "The accuracy of graphs to describe size distributions," MPRA Paper 48577, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  13. Duncan Black & Vernon Henderson, 2003. "Urban evolution in the USA," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 3(4), pages 343-372, October.
  14. Hern�n D. Rozenfeld & Diego Rybski & Xavier Gabaix & Hern�n A. Makse, 2011. "The Area and Population of Cities: New Insights from a Different Perspective on Cities," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(5), pages 2205-25, August.
  15. Marco Bee, 2012. "Statistical analysis of the Lognormal-Pareto distribution using Probability Weighted Moments and Maximum Likelihood," Department of Economics Working Papers 1208, Department of Economics, University of Trento, Italia.
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  17. Brakman, Steven & Garretsen, Harry & Schramm, Marc, 2002. "The strategic bombing of German cities during World War II and its impact on city growth," Research Report 03C03, University of Groningen, Research Institute SOM (Systems, Organisations and Management).
  18. Jan Eeckhout, 2004. "Gibrat's Law for (All) Cities," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(5), pages 1429-1451, December.
  19. Pierre-Philippe COMBES & Gilles DURANTON & Laurent GOBILLON & Diego PUGA & Sébastien ROUX, 2009. "The Productivity Advantages of Large Cities : Distinguishing Agglomeration from Firm Selection," Working Papers 2009-08, Centre de Recherche en Economie et Statistique.
  20. Rafael González‐Val, 2010. "The Evolution Of U.S. City Size Distribution From A Long‐Term Perspective (1900–2000)," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(5), pages 952-972, December.
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  25. William J. Reed, 2002. "On the Rank-Size Distribution for Human Settlements," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 42(1), pages 1-17.
  26. Gabaix, Xavier & Ibragimov, Rustam, 2011. "Rank − 1 / 2: A Simple Way to Improve the OLS Estimation of Tail Exponents," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 29(1), pages 24-39.
  27. Xavier Gabaix, 1999. "Zipf'S Law For Cities: An Explanation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(3), pages 739-767, August.
  28. Kristian GIESEN & Jens SÜDEKUM, 2012. "The French Overall City Size Distribution," Region et Developpement, Region et Developpement, LEAD, Universite du Sud - Toulon Var, vol. 36, pages 107-126.
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