The Distribution of Urban Population and Economic Activity in the European Union and the United States
8 Pages Posted: 13 Apr 2021 Last revised: 16 Jun 2021
Date Written: April 24, 2021
This letter compares the distribution of urban population and economic activity in the European Union and the United States. Economic activity, proxied with nighttime lights, is more unevenly distributed than population, especially in Europe. This reflects that more population does not necessarily imply a higher level of economic activity. Both Zipf's law and a Pareto distribution are rejected for aggregate nighttime lights within urban extents. Therefore, alternative specifications are required for the distribution of city sizes in terms of economic activity.
Keywords: City size distribution, Zipf's law, population, nighttime lights
JEL Classification: O18, O57, R12
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation