Affordable Access

The evolution of city size distribution in Portugal: 1864-2001

  • Economics


The rank-size model - which states that the size distribution of cities in a country follows a Pareto distribution - has been recognized as one of those stylized facts or amazing empirical regularities, in spatial economics. A common problem in city size distribution studies concerns the definition of “cities”, namely the consistency of those definitions over time. In this paper we use a city-proper data base which uses a consistent definition of cities from 1864 to 1991. Portugal is a country with long established national borders and whose mainland urban system shows a constant number of cities over that period. In Portugal, empirical evidence on city size distribution based on census data shows that two large cities dominate the urban system, associated with a large number of very small cities and a clear deficit of medium-size cities. In this paper we analyse the evolution of the rank size exponent and examine the effect of varying city size cut-offs on the estimate value of that exponent. Then, we study the deviations of the rank-size distribution from linearity. Finally, we explore the dynamics underlying the evolution of the urban system by examining the relationship between city growth rates and city size.

There are no comments yet on this publication. Be the first to share your thoughts.


Seen <100 times