Discovering the Fundamental Laws of the Growth of Cities
One test of the idea that cities are coherent entities is the ability to predict their future characteristics based on their past behaviour. Researchers asked whether a city’s population growth in the current year depends on its growth in previous years. To find the answer, they examined a database compiled by the Spanish government between 1900 and 2011 of the population of 8100 municipalities throughout the country.
Their results show that for cities with a population of more than 10,000, the future growth depends clearly on the past. However, this dependence on the past reaches a maximum after about 15 years and then declines. So city growth has a kind of inertia with a characteristic time scale of about 15 years or so.
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