Universal City-size distributions through rank ordering

Article Type

Research Article

Publication Title

Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications


We consider a two-parameter discrete generalized beta (DGB) distribution and propose its universal applications to study the size-distribution of the urban agglomerations across various countries in the world, where the urban agglomerations include the small and mid-sized cities along with the heavily populated cities. Our proposition is validated by an exhaustive study with the 3 decades’ census data for India and China and census data of USA for a time window of 8 years. Moreover, we have studied the city size distributions for many different countries, like Brazil, Italy, Sweden, Australia, Uganda etc., from all the continents around the world according to the availability of the data. The detailed analyses exhibit a unique global pattern for the city size distributions, from low to high size, across the world with various geographic and economic conditions. Further analyses based on the entropy of the distribution provide insights on the underlying randomness and spreads of the city sizes within a country. The DGB distribution, a typical rank order (RO) distribution, through its two parameters, not only fits the data on wider range of city sizes better than the well-known power law for all the countries considered, it also helps us to characterize, discriminate and study their evolution over time.



Publication Date



Open Access, Green