Optimal Weights for Focused Tests of Clustering Using the Local Moran Statistic

Peter A. Rogerson, Peter Kedron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Local spatial statistics measure and test for spatial association for a variable or variables of interest in a geographic neighborhood surrounding a predefined location. Most applications adopt a single scale of analysis but give little attention to the scale of the process generating the data. Alternatively, when the researcher is uncertain about the process scale, local statistics may examine a number of scales. In these cases, it is important to include a correction for multiple testing when evaluating the statistical significance of each local statistic, something that is rarely done. Consequently, local statistics are more likely to identify significant relationships, even when no meaningful spatial association exists. In this article, we develop a methodology for the local Moran statistic that provides both an empirical estimate of the spatial scale of association and an assessment of the significance of the statistic for that scale. The key idea is to test a number of possible choices for the statistic's weight matrix and then account for the multiple testing associated with the number of weight matrices examined. Unlike previous research, our statistic avoids the use of simulation to determine statistical significance in the presence of multiple testing. To test the validity of our approach, we constructed a numerical example to assess the statistic's performance and conducted an empirical study using leukemia data from central New York state. The developed statistic addresses the need for the empirical determination of weights and spatial scale. The test therefore addresses the common weakness of many applications, where weights are defined exogenously, with little or no thought given to either the definition or its implications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)121-133
Number of pages13
JournalGeographical Analysis
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2012
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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