Zipf's law and city size distribution: A survey of the literature and future research agenda

Journal article


Arshad, S., Hu, S. and Ashraf, B.N. (2017). Zipf's law and city size distribution: A survey of the literature and future research agenda. Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications. 492 (75-92). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.physa.2017.10.005
AuthorsArshad, S., Hu, S. and Ashraf, B.N.
Abstract

This study provides a systematic review of the existing literature on Zipf’s law for city size distribution. Existing empirical evidence suggests that Zipf’s law is not always observable even for the upper-tail cities of a territory. However, the controversy with empirical findings arises due to sample selection biases, methodological weaknesses and data limitations. The hypothesis of Zipf’s law is more likely to be rejected for the entire city size distribution and, in such case, alternative distributions have been suggested. On the contrary, the hypothesis is more likely to be accepted if better empirical methods are employed and cities are properly defined. The debate is still far from to be conclusive. In addition, we identify four emerging areas in Zipf’s law and city size distribution research including the size distribution of lower-tail cities, the size distribution of cities in sub-national regions, the alternative forms of Zipf’s law, and the relationship between Zipf’s law and the coherence property of the urban system.

Year2017
JournalPhysica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications
Journal citation492 (75-92)
PublisherElsevier
ISSN0378-4371
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1016/j.physa.2017.10.005
Web address (URL)http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?eid=2-s2.0-85032221276&partnerID=MN8TOARS
Publication dates
Online16 Oct 2017
Publication process dates
Accepted07 Oct 2017
Deposited07 Nov 2022
Accepted author manuscript
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Open
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