1st Edition

Urban Scaling Allometry in Urban Studies and Spatial Science

Edited By Luca S. D'Acci Copyright 2025
    340 Pages 86 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Urban allometry empirically describes how “things”, for example crime, GPD, emissions, energy use, area, street length, housing prices, etc. change in cities when their size, in terms of population, increases. Urban scaling is a relatively recent area of urban science, investigating how measurable characteristics of cities vary with their sizes.

    This book addresses this relatively novel but highly debated topic within urban studies and geography. It presents many results, techniques, methods, and reflections on urban scaling and allometry. The sections are organized into different sub-areas such as socio-economic, infrastructural or environmental outputs, so that there is a broad organization of the findings into recognizable sub-domains. The book is particularly timely as it is becoming increasingly urgent and necessary to understand the pro and cons of different city sizes and therefore to plan policies accordingly. The book is especially interesting from a theoretical perspective because it presents the latest developments and achievements in the field, which will help to highlight potential universal rules across cities and regions.

    This book will benefit researchers in urban science, and scholars entering the field from various disciplines, such as geography, sociology, economics, mathematics, physics, or urban and regional planning. It will also find an audience among practitioners and policymakers.



    List of figures

    List of tables

    List of contributors


    PART I: Introduction & state of the art


    1. Batty M., Introduction: A Primer on Size, Scale, and Shape


    2. D’Acci L.S., Empirical overview of urban scaling.

    Urban allometry origins, critics and city performance evaluations.


    3. Pumain D., Scaling laws and urban systems.


    4. Menghui Li, Jinshan Wu, Allometry in scientific fields.


    5. Frank Schiller, Urban transitions: scaling complex cities down to human size.


    PART II: Socio-economic


    6. Paulus F., Pumain D., Vacchiani-Marcuzzo C., Economic trajectories of cities and scaling laws.


    7. Gomez-Lievano A., Patterson-Lomba O., Hausmann R., How urban allometry emerges from economic complexity and cultural evolution.


    8. Khiali-Miab A., Grêt-Regamey A., Axhausen K.W., van Strien M.J., Explaining the socio-economic output of urban regions with a model combining urban scaling and polycentricity.


    9. Haroldo V. Ribeiro, Luiz G. A. Alves, Ervin K. Lenzi, Fabiano L. Ribeiro, Renio S. Mendes., Comparing cities of different sizes with scale-adjusted metrics.


    10. Haroldo V. Ribeiro, Luiz G. A. Alves, Ervin K. Lenzi, Fabiano L. Ribeiro, Renio S. Mendes, Connection between Zipf's law and urban scaling.


    11 Haroldo V. Ribeiro, Jack Sutton, Quentin S. Hanley, Density scaling laws and rural to urban transitions.


    12. Sarkar S., Exploring Socio-Economic Inequalities in Cities Through the Lens of Urban Scaling.


    13. Sahasranaman A., Bettencourt L.M.A., Scaling in Indian Cities.


    14. Ortman S.G., José Lobo, Michael E. Smith, Urban Allometries in Archaeology: The Social Reactors Project


    15. van Raan A.F.J., Socio-economic strength and governance: influence of the number of municipalities in an urban agglomeration


    16. van Raan A.F.J., Regional and sectorial diversity of employment urban scaling 


    17. Rocha L.E.C., Fatemeh Zarei, Ruixue Jing, The non-causal scaling of health indicators and city size


    18. Chen Y., A Framework of Multi-Scaling Allometric Analysis for City Development


    19. Siyuan Zhang, Gang Xu, Limin Jiao, Urban Scaling Law of the COVID-19 Epidemic in the United Kingdom


    20. Elisa Heinrich Mora, Vicky Chuqiao Yang, Christopher P. Kempes. Scaling of Urban Income Inequality in the USA


    21. Vicky Chuqiao Yang, Mathematical model explains variations in urban scaling exponents


    22. Limin Jiao, Weiqian Lei, Gang Xu, Characteristics and mechanisms of urban scaling in rapidly urbanizing China



    PART III: Environment


    23. Ribeiro H.V., Rybski D. Urban carbon dioxide emissions and the role of population, area, and density


    24. Nahid Mohajeri and Agust Gudmundsson. Scaling relations between urban configuration, travel behavior, and CO2 emissions.



    PART IV: Infrastructure

    25. Tian Lan, Zhilin Li, Hong Zhang, Allometric relations between structural fractality of road networks and urban quantities


    26. Caruso G., Kilgarriff P., Delloye J., Lemoy R., The scaling of urban land and density profiles: empirics and theory


    27. Li R., Zhang J., Active Population and Spatial Scaling Laws in Cities


    28. Tao Zhou, Scaling Laws in Human Mobility


    29. Yanguang Chen. Geographical Space Based on Urban Allometry and Fractal Dimension


    30. Yanguang Chen. Spatial Allometric Scaling of Cities Based on Variable Urban Boundaries


    31. Gustavo A. Ovando-Montejo, Peter Kedron, Amy E. Frazier. The allometry of urban configuration: scaling evidence from a Latin American city system


    32. Anna Carbone, Sergio L. da Silva, Giorgio Kaniadakis. Capturing urban scaling laws via spatio-temporal correlated Clustering



    PART V: Conclusion - Regional Economics, Science and Policy


    33. Frank van Oort. Bridging scaling with agglomeration economies.






    Luca S. D’Acci is Associate Professor at the Department of Planning, Regional and Urban Studies, Polytechnic University of Turin, Italy.

    “Cities are unique among all biological and socio-economic organisms. They are the one organism whose metabolism speeds up as they grow larger in size. That is a key insight from the theory of urban scaling – that cities scale super-linearly. In this edited collection, Luca Sebastiano D'Acci brings together some 60 leading international scholars in the field that apply the techniques and insights from the growing field of urban scaling to critical issues around global population growth, urbanization, and the future of global cities. Must reading for all interested in this growing crucial field.” — Richard Florida, University Professor at the University of Toronto, and author of The Rise of the Creative Class and The New Urban Crisis.

    “Once considered a curiosity, scaling laws are now known to be a fundamental emergent property of self-organized systems, and in particular of urban and regional systems.  As a result, in recent years there has been a resurgence of interest in the scaling phenomenon as its usefulness both in understanding urban processes and in testing and validating models of these processes has become apparent.  This volume brings together contributions by many of the most important researchers currently working in the field.  It is therefore an essential resource for anyone interested in this increasingly important subject.” — Roger White, Honorary Research Professor, Memorial University of Newfoundland, and author of Modeling Cities and Regions as Complex Systems: From Theory to applications.

    “This book provides a definitive set of papers from internationally leading researchers on the application of spatial science to urban areas, focusing on the fundamental issue of scaling. Different perspectives are presented covering the range of methods developed to understanding urban allometry and the dynamics of city development. It chronicles the development of urban scaling over the last 70 years, taking examples from cities across the globe, together with more detailed thematic analysis of its impacts on economics, inequality and health. A wealth of knowledge is assembled in the 33 chapters, and the book provides an authoritative contribution to our understanding of cities.” — Professor David Banister, University of Oxford.

    “Understanding cities, being a highly complex system-of-systems, is one of life’s great challenges. Civil engineers are charged with supporting civilised life by providing constructed environments that work synergistically with the natural environment, and for this they need a rigorously garnered understanding of the nature and operation of these systems and their interdependencies. Urban scaling is a critical element of this understanding and one which this remarkable collection of perspectives uniquely provides. This book therefore provides a profound contribution to the literature and a foundation on which all urban professionals can build.” — Professor Chris Rogers, School of Civil Engineering, University of Birmingham, UK.