NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Cities and Countries

Andrew K. Rose

NBER Working Paper No. 11762
Issued in November 2005
NBER Program(s):International Finance and Macroeconomics, International Trade and Investment

If one ranks cities by population, the rank of a city is inversely related to its size, a well-documented phenomenon known as Zipf's Law. Further, the growth rate of a city's population is uncorrelated with its size, another well-known characteristic known as Gibrat's Law. In this paper, I show that both characteristics are true of countries as well as cities; the size distributions of cities and countries are similar. But theories that explain the size-distribution of cities do not obviously apply in explaining the size-distribution of countries. The similarity of city- and country-size distributions is an interesting riddle.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w11762

Published: Rose, Andrew K. "Cities and Countries," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, 2006, v38(8,Nov), 2225-2245.

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