Zipf’s law, Gibrat’s law and international migration

This note details recent efforts to appraise the existence of Zipf’s Law and Gibrat’s Law when applied to international migration. In comparison with previous work, we examine aggregate and high-skilled immigration and emigration in levels and as percentages of the population. We provide evidence that a number of statistical regularities, including Zipf’s Law, hold, which although often documented elsewhere in a variety of different contexts, nevertheless provide several statistical curiosities. These are interesting not least because the theoretical models used to explain Zipf’s and Gibrat’s laws elsewhere are not truly applicable when the unit of observation is a sovereign country, the borders of which are arguably controlled by the Government.

Özden, Ç., Parsons, C. "Zipf’s law, Gibrat’s law and international migration", Ferdi Policy brief  B101, October 2014