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The Urban Hierarchy Unraveled: A Meta-Analysis on the Rank-Size Rule

Groot, Henri De
Mulder, Peter
Kamphorst, Marten
Year of Publication: 
Series/Report no.: 
54th Congress of the European Regional Science Association: "Regional development & globalisation: Best practices", 26-29 August 2014, St. Petersburg, Russia
This paper presents a meta-analysis of the empirical literature on the Rank-Size Rule for the size distribution of cities. Our analysis covers 1669 estimates derived from 59 studies. As such, our analysis presents a substantial extension of an earlier meta-analysis by Nitsch (2004) performed on 515 estimates from 29 studies. The extension consists of many studies covering less developed countries, and studies that are dated after 2004. Considering the entire sample, we find that the average estimate is slightly above one. At the same time, we find substantial heterogeneity which we try to unravel by adding a series of potential explanatory variables that might explain this variation. These explanatory variables range from temporal and spatial factors to study- and estimate characteristics and on to characteristics of the regions for which the rank size rule has been estimated.
Zipf's law
Size distribution of cities
Rank size rule
Document Type: 
Conference Paper

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