DP16017 Gibrat's Law for Cities: Evidence from World War I Casualties

Author(s): Antonio Ciccone
Publication Date: April 2021
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Programme Areas: International Trade and Regional Economics, Economic History, Macroeconomics and Growth
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=16017

According to Gibrat's law for cities, population shocks have permanent effects on city size. I examine this implication by analyzing the persistence of observed population shocks: German military casualties in WWI by municipality of birth. I find a strong negative effect of military casualties on the male population of municipalities just after WWI. This effect persists to 1933 and, outside of the most agricultural municipalities, beyond. The effect on female population and the number of households is similar to the effect on male population by 1950, when women in the generation that fought WWI started reaching their life expectancy.