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The size distribution of Chinese cities

By Gordon Anderson and Ying Ge


This paper uses Chinese urban data to investigate two important issues regarding city size distribution: the nature in which cities of different size grow relative to each other, and which distribution is the best approximation of city size distribution. First, we examine how cities of different sizes grow relative to each other. While most empirical literatures suggest that relative size and rank of cities remain stable over time, we find reform period since 1980 delivered significant structural change in Chinese urban system. The city size distribution remains stable before the reform but shows convergent pattern of growth in post-reform period. Secondly, we use Pearson goodness-of-fit test to examine which distribution is the best approximation of city size distribution. A parallel study of city size distribution in China and U.S. reveals substantial differences: a lognormal distribution in case of China and a Pareto distribution in case of US. JEL classification: C24 R12 Keyword: Zipf’s La

Year: 2011
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