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Zipf's law and urban growth in Malaysia

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>2007
<mark>Journal</mark>Urban Studies
Issue number1
Number of pages14
Pages (from-to)1-14
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This paper performs a test of Zipf's law (the size distribution of cities follows a Pareto distribution with shape parameter equal to 1) using data for Malaysian cities from five population censuses (1957, 1970, 1980, 1991 and 2000). For the full sample, Zipf's law is rejected for all periods except 1957, in favour of a city size distribution that is more unequal than would be predicted by Zipf's law. Results at the upper tail, where the distribution fits the Pareto distribution better, are more favourable to Zipf's law. Evidence is also found against Gibrat's law of proportional growth: smaller cities grow faster, as do state capitals and cities in the states of Sabah and Selangor.