The science of allometry, the study of the relationship between body size and shape, is more than 100 years old. It dates to the late 19th century, when anatomists became fascinated by the link between the size and strength of appendages such as arms and legs in creatures of varying size.
In recent years, various researchers have begun to think of cities as “living” entities in which activity patterns change over regular 24-hour periods and which also vary dramatically depending on city size. That’s lead to a new science of city-related allometry—how various aspects of life vary with the size of the conurbation they take place in.
Today, we get a new insight into this emerging science thanks to the work of Luis Rocha at the University of Namur in Belgium and a couple of pals who have studied the way health varies with city size. These guys have made some surprising discoveries.
It’s easy to imagine that a city is simply the sum of its parts. But economists, sociologists, and city planners have long known that many aspects of city life do not scale linearly with the size of a city.