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Gibrat's law and the British Industrial Revolution

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  • Alexander Klein

    ()

  • Tim Leunig

    ()

Abstract

This paper examines Gibrat’s law in England and Wales between 1801 and 1911 using a unique data set covering the entire settlement size distribution. We find that Gibrat’s law broadly holds even in the face of population doubling every fifty years, an industrial and transport trevolution, and the absence of zoning laws to constrain growth. The result is strongest for the later period, and in counties most affected by the industrial revolution. The exception were villages in areas bypassed by the industrial revolution. We argue that agglomeration externalities balanced urban disamenities such as commuting costs and poor living conditions to ensure steady growth of many places, rather than exceptional growth of few.

Suggested Citation

  • Alexander Klein & Tim Leunig, 2013. "Gibrat's law and the British Industrial Revolution," Studies in Economics 1314, School of Economics, University of Kent.
  • Handle: RePEc:ukc:ukcedp:1314
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Gibrat’s law; city-size distribution; industrial revolution;

    JEL classification:

    • N93 - Economic History - - Regional and Urban History - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • R12 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Size and Spatial Distributions of Regional Economic Activity; Interregional Trade (economic geography)

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