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Multilevel comparison of large urban systems

Abstract : For the first time the systems of cities in seven countries or regions among the largest in the world (China, India, Brazil, Europe, the Former Soviet Union (FSU), the United States and South Africa) are made comparable through the building of spatio-temporal standardised statistical databases. We first explain the concept of a generic evolutionary urban unit (“city”) and its necessary adaptations to the information provided by each national statistical system. Second, the hierarchical structure and the urban growth process are compared at macro-scale for the seven countries with reference to Zipf’s and Gibrat’s model: in agreement with an evolutionary theory of urban systems, large similarities shape the hierarchical structure and growth processes in BRICS countries as well as in Europe and United States, despite their positions at different stages in the urban transition that explain some structural peculiarities. Third, the individual trajectories of some 10,000 cities are mapped at micro-scale following a cluster analysis of their evolution over the last fifty years. A few common principles extracted from the evolutionary theory of urban systems can explain the diversity of these trajectories, including a specific pattern in their geographical repartition in the Chinese case. We conclude that the observations at macro-level when summarized as stylised facts can help in designing simulation models of urban systems whereas the urban trajectories identified at micro-level are consistent enough for constituting the basis of plausible future population projections.
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Contributor : Celine Vacchiani-Marcuzzo <>
Submitted on : Thursday, September 17, 2015 - 12:27:40 PM
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  • HAL Id : halshs-01200848, version 1


Denise Pumain, Elfie Swerts, Clémentine Cottineau, Céline Vacchiani-Marcuzzo, Antonio Ignazzi, et al.. Multilevel comparison of large urban systems. Cybergeo : Revue européenne de géographie / European journal of geography, UMR 8504 Géographie-cités, 2015, ⟨halshs-01200848⟩



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