Sequential City Growth: Empirical Evidence

Posted: 13 Oct 2008

Date Written: October 9, 2008


Using two comprehensive datasets on population of cities (1800-2000) and metropolitan areas (1960-2000) for a large set of countries, I present three new empirical facts about the evolution of city growth. First, the distribution of cities growth rates is skewed to the right in most countries and decades. Second, within a country, the rank of each decade's fastest growing cities tends to increase over time. Finally, this rank grows faster in periods of rapid growth in urban population. It is argued that these three observations can be rationalized with a simple urban growth model that predicts sequential city growth.

Keywords: city growth, Gibrat's law, city size distribution

JEL Classification: R11, R12

Suggested Citation

Cuberes, David, Sequential City Growth: Empirical Evidence (October 9, 2008). Available at SSRN:

David Cuberes (Contact Author)

University of Sheffield ( email )

9 Mappin Street
Sheffield, S1 4DT


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