Cities as Six-by-Six-Mile Squares

Edited by Thomas J. Holmes and Sanghoon Lee

in Agglomeration Economics

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print April 2010 | ISBN: 9780226297897
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226297927 | DOI:
Cities as Six-by-Six-Mile Squares

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A question in urban economics that has attracted much attention is the extent to which the size distribution of cities obeys Zipf's law. This chapter considers a new approach to looking at population distributions that sweeps out any decisions made by bureaucrats or politicians. When comparing populations of geographic units, differences fall along two margins. First, one unit can have a larger population than another because it encompasses a greater land area, holding population density fixed. Second, a unit can have a larger population on a fixed amount of land; that is, higher population density. The chapter analyzes size distribution by cutting the map of the continental United States into a uniform grid of six-by-six-mile squares, and examines the distribution of population across the squares and the extent to which Zipf's law holds for each. A joint analysis of the distribution of population of squares within and across metropolitan areas is a fruitful area for further research.

Keywords: urban economics; size distribution; Zipf's law; six-by-six-mile; geographic units

Chapter.  10547 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Microeconomics

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