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Gibrat's Law for (All) Cities: A Rejoinder


  • Yannis M. Ioannides
  • Spyros Skouras


We establish that the debate between Eeckhout (2004; 2009) and Levy (2009) has still not resolved the key issue of whether the distribution of large US urban places in 2000 is consistent with a lognormal for the intire size range. We resolve this by introducing a new distribution function which switches between a lognormal and a power distribution and estimating it with the data used by Eeckhout and Levy (2009). We find that there is a sudden transition from lognormality to power behavior as city populations icrease above sudden transition from lognormality to power behavior as city populations increase above 100,000. Gibrat's law holds for most cities but a power law holds for most of the population.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:tuf:tuftec:0740

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    Cited by:

    1. Hernán D. Rozenfeld & Diego Rybski & Xavier Gabaix & Hernán 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 2205-2225, August.
    2. Kristian Giesen & Jens Suedekum, 2012. "The Size Distribution Across All 'Cities': A Unifying Approach," SERC Discussion Papers 0122, Spatial Economics Research Centre, LSE.
    3. 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.
    4. Ferdinand Rauch, 2014. "Cities as spatial clusters," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 14(4), pages 759-773.
    5. Giesen, Kristian & Zimmermann, Arndt & Suedekum, Jens, 2010. "The size distribution across all cities - Double Pareto lognormal strikes," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(2), pages 129-137, September.
    6. Rafael González-Val & Arturo Ramos-Gutiérrez & Fernando Sanz-Gracia, 2011. "Size Distributions for All Cities: Lognormal and q-exponential functions," ERSA conference papers ersa11p554, European Regional Science Association.
    7. 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.
    8. Rafael GONZÀLEZ-VAL, 2012. "Zipf’S Law: Main Issues In Empirical Work," Region et Developpement, Region et Developpement, LEAD, Universite du Sud - Toulon Var, vol. 36, pages 147-164.
    9. Hasan ENGIN DURAN & Sevim PELIN OZKAN, 2015. "Trade Openness, Urban Concentration And City-Size Growth In Turkey," Regional Science Inquiry, Hellenic Association of Regional Scientists, vol. 0(1), pages 35-46, June.

    More about this item


    Gibrat's Law; Zipf's law; upper tail; mixture of distributions; switching regressions; urban evolution; urban heirarchy;

    JEL classification:

    • D30 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - General
    • D51 - Microeconomics - - General Equilibrium and Disequilibrium - - - Exchange and Production Economies
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers
    • R12 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Size and Spatial Distributions of Regional Economic Activity; Interregional Trade (economic geography)
    • C24 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Truncated and Censored Models; Switching Regression Models; Threshold Regression Models

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