NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

NBER Publications by Hernan Makse

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October 2009The Area and Population of Cities: New Insights from a Different Perspective on Cities
with Hernán D. Rozenfeld, Diego Rybski, Xavier Gabaix: w15409
The distribution of the population of cities has attracted a great deal of attention, in part because it sharply constrains models of local growth. However, to this day, there is no consensus on the distribution below the very upper tail, because available data need to rely on the “legal” rather than “economic” definition of cities for medium and small cities. To remedy this difficulty, in this work we construct cities “from the bottom up” by clustering populated areas obtained from high-resolution data. This method allows us to investigate the population and area of cities for urban agglomerations of all sizes. We find that Zipf’s law (a power law with exponent close to 1) for population holds for cities as small as 12,000 inhabitants in the USA and 5,000 inhabitants in Great Britain. In ...

Contact and additional information for this authorAll papers and publicationsWorking Papers onlyWorking Papers with publication info

 
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