Zipf's Law for Cities: A Cross Country Investigation
Paper No' CEPDP0641:
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Keywords: Cities; Zipf's Law, Pareto distribution, Hill estimator
JEL Classification: C16; R12
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This Paper is published under the following series:
CEP Discussion Papers
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This paper assesses the empirical validity of Zipf¿s Law for cities, using new data on 73
countries and two estimation methods ¿ OLS and the Hill estimator. With either estimator,
we reject Zipf¿s Law far more often than we would expect based on random chance; for 53
out of 73 countries using OLS, and for 30 out of 73 countries using the Hill estimator. The
OLS estimates of the Pareto exponent are roughly normally distributed, but those of the Hill
estimator are bimodal. Variations in the value of the Pareto exponent are better explained by
political economy variables than by economic geography variables.