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Gibrat's Law for Cities Revisited

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  • Rafael González-Val
  • Luis Lanaspa
  • Fernando Sanz

Abstract

The aim of this work is to test empirically the validity of Gibrat's Law in the growth of cities, using data for all the twentieth century of the complete distribution of cities (without any size restrictions) in three countries: the US, Spain and Italy. For this we use different techniques (parametric and non-parametric methods), obtaining mixed evidence. Our results confirm that Gibrat's law for means holds only as a long-run average. In the short term, considered decade by decade, we find that growth was divergent in all three countries. Despite this, the distribution of growth in the cities can be approached as a lognormal. In the long term, panel data unit root tests confirm the validity of Gibrat's Law in the upper tail distribution. Finally we find evidence in favour of a weak Gibrat's Law (size affects the variance of the growth process but not its mean) when using non-parametric methods which relate the growth rate to city size.

Suggested Citation

  • Rafael González-Val & Luis Lanaspa & Fernando Sanz, 2011. "Gibrat's Law for Cities Revisited," ERSA conference papers ersa10p199, European Regional Science Association.
  • Handle: RePEc:wiw:wiwrsa:ersa10p199
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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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    5. Bosker, Maarten & Brakman, Steven & Garretsen, Harry & Schramm, Marc, 2008. "A century of shocks: The evolution of the German city size distribution 1925-1999," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(4), pages 330-347, July.
    6. Gilles Duranton, 2007. "Urban Evolutions: The Fast, the Slow, and the Still," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(1), pages 197-221, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Kwok Tong Soo, 2012. "The size and growth of state populations in the United States," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 32(2), pages 1238-1249.
    2. Daniel ARRIBAS-BEL & Fernando SANZ GRACIA & Domingo P. XIMENEZ-DE-EMBUN, 2012. "Kangaroos, Cities And Space: A First Approach To The Australian Urban System," Region et Developpement, Region et Developpement, LEAD, Universite du Sud - Toulon Var, vol. 36, pages 165-187.
    3. 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.

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