Zipf's Law for Cities in the Regions and the Country

24 Pages Posted: 19 Jan 2009

See all articles by Kristian Giesen

Kristian Giesen

University of Duisburg-Essen

Jens Suedekum

Heinrich-Heine-University Duesseldorf, Duesseldorf Institute for Competition Economics (DICE); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute); Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

Abstract

The salient rank-size rule known as Zipf's law is not only satisfied for Germany's national urban hierarchy, but also for the city size distributions in single German regions. To analyze this phenomenon, we build on the insights by Gabaix (1999) that Zipf's law follows from a stochastic growth process. In particular, Gabaix shows that if the regions follow Gibrat's law, we should observe Zipf at both the regional and the national level. This theory has never been addressed empirically. Using non-parametric techniques we find that Gibrat's law holds in each German region, irrespective of how "regions" are defined. In other words, Gibrat's law and therefore Zipf's law tend to hold everywhere in space.

Keywords: city size distributions, city growth, Zipf's law, Gibrat's law, rank-size rule

JEL Classification: R11, O4

Suggested Citation

Giesen, Kristian and Südekum, Jens, Zipf's Law for Cities in the Regions and the Country. IZA Discussion Paper No. 3928, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1329566

Kristian Giesen (Contact Author)

University of Duisburg-Essen ( email )

Lotharstrasse 1
Duisburg, 47048
Germany

Jens Südekum

Heinrich-Heine-University Duesseldorf, Duesseldorf Institute for Competition Economics (DICE) ( email )

Universitaetsstr. 1
Duesseldorf, NRW 40225
Germany

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) ( email )

London
United Kingdom

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute) ( email )

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Downloads
125
Abstract Views
764
rank
259,022
PlumX Metrics