PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2022, Vol. 41 ›› Issue (3): 361-370.doi: 10.18306/dlkxjz.2022.03.001

• Articles •     Next Articles

The form and evolution of city size distribution and urban growth model in China: An analysis based on Zipf’s Law and Gibrat’s Law

SUN Bindong1,2,3(), WANG Yanyan1,2,3, ZHANG Zhiqiang1, LI Wan1,2,3,*()   

  1. 1. Research Center for China Administrative Division, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200241, China
    2. Institute of Eco-Chongming, Shanghai 202162, China
    3. School of Urban and Regional Science, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200241, China
  • Received:2021-06-08 Revised:2021-09-22 Online:2022-03-28 Published:2022-05-28
  • Contact: LI Wan E-mail:bdsun@re.ecnu.edu.cn;lw1436@163.com
  • Supported by:
    Major Program of National Social Science Foundation of China, No(17ZDA068);National Natural Science Foundation of China, No(42071210);National Natural Science Foundation of China, No(41901184);National Natural Science Foundation of China, No(42001183)

Abstract:

Based on the data of permanent residents from six national population census of China over the period 1953-2010, this study conducted an empirical analysis on the size heterogeneity of city size distribution and the relationship between the evolution of city size distribution and city growth model, to which little attention was paid in previous studies. We selected all cities (including prefecture-level cities and county-level cities) and prefecture-level cities (city propers) alone as samples, and empirically analyzed the morphological characteristics and evolution trends of urban rank-size distribution in China and its relationship with Gibrat's Law. The results show that the main body of city size distribution in China conforms to the linear distribution of Zipf's Law. However, the two ends of the city size distribution spectrum, namely small cities and megacities, deviate from the linear distribution due to insufficient sizes. This phenomenon is not unique to China, but supported by evidence from other countries of the world. From the perspective of evolution, the city size distribution in China gradually dispersed and deviated from Zipf's Law in the early stage. However, from 2000, it began to return to the direction in line with Zipf's Law, with big cities taking the lead in 1990, which shows the coupling with the random growth of urban population in this stage and verifies the logical consistency between Zipf's Law and Gibert's Law. The findings of this study have important implications for promoting the high-quality development of city size distribution in China.

Key words: city size distribution, Zipf's Law, rank-size rule, Gibrat's Law, China