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SERC/Urban and Spatial Programme Discussion Paper
The Size Distribution Across All 'Cities': A Unifying Approach
Kristian Giesen and Jens Südekum
December 2012
Paper No' SERCDP0122:
Full Paper (pdf)

JEL Classification: R11; R12

Tags: zipf's law; gibrat's law; city size distributions; city age; dpln distribution

Older cities in the US tend to be larger than younger ones. The distribution of city sizes is, therefore, systematically related to the country's city age distribution. We introduce endogenous city creation into a dynamic economic model of an urban system. All cities exhibit the same long-run growth rate (Gibrat's law), but young cities initially grow faster. The double Pareto lognormal (DPLN) emerges as the city size distribution in our model. The DPLN unifies the lognormal and the Pareto distribution (Zipf's law), and closely fits US city size data. This evidence can potentially resolve several debates from the recent literature.