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Gibrat's law and the British Industrial Revolution

  • Alexander Klein

    ()

  • Tim Leunig

    ()

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.

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File URL: ftp://ftp.ukc.ac.uk/pub/ejr/RePEc/ukc/ukcedp/1314.pdf
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Paper provided by School of Economics, University of Kent in its series Studies in Economics with number 1314.

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Date of creation: Aug 2013
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Handle: RePEc:ukc:ukcedp:1314
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School of Economics, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NP

Phone: +44 (0)1227 827497
Web page: http://www.kent.ac.uk/economics/

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  1. Xavier Gabaix, 1999. "Zipf's Law for Cities: An Explanation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(3), pages 739-767.
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