On the Distribution of City Sizes


  • Staff General Research Papers Archive


  • The city size distribution of many countries is remarkably well approximated by a Pareto distribution. We study what constraints this regularity imposes on standard urban models. We find that under general conditions urban models must have (i) a balanced growth path and (ii) a Pareto distribution for the underlying source of randomness. In particular, one of the following combinations can induce a Pareto distribution of city sizes: (i) preferences for different goods follow reflected random walks, and the elasticity of substitution between goods is 1; or (ii) total factor productivities in the production of different goods follow reflected random walks, and increasing returns are equal across goods.

fecha de publicación

  • 2010-11

Líneas de investigación

  • Balanced Growth
  • Cities
  • City Size Distribution
  • Multisectorial Models
  • Pareto Distribution
  • Rank-Size Rule
  • Urban Growth
  • Zipf's Law


  • 32121