An Outlier in Zipf’s World? A Case Study of China’s City Size and Urban Growth
CitationYin, Cathy. 2020. An Outlier in Zipf’s World? A Case Study of China’s City Size and Urban Growth. Bachelor's thesis, Harvard College.
AbstractThis paper examines the population distribution and urban growth patterns of Chinese cities, motivated by two stylized facts – Zipf’s law and Gibrat’s law for cities. Our findings suggest that China deviates from both laws from 1991 to 2017. In particular, its population is distributed more equally than Zipf’s law would otherwise predict, and Chinese cities have experienced a significant mean reversion, rather than a homogenous growth path. We develop three hypotheses for explaining why large cities experience slower urban growth in China, namely, economic productivity slowdown, amenity deterioration, and direct government interventions. Our results indicate that in China, productivity and amenities promote population growth, and large cities enjoy higher productivity and better amenities. On the other hand, China’s population control policies, the one-child policy and the household registration (hukou) system, are more strictly enforced in large cities than in small and medium-size cities. Therefore, large cities grow slower due to direct government interventions, despite their higher productivity and better amenities.
Citable link to this pagehttps://nrs.harvard.edu/URN-3:HUL.INSTREPOS:37364744
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