Population shift bias in tests of space-time interaction

Elizabeth Mack, Nicholas Malizia, Sergio J. Rey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Common to all tests of space-time interaction is the assumption that the population underlying the events of interest exhibits a trajectory of growth that is consistent through time and across space. In practice, however, this assumption is often untenable and, when violated, can introduce population shift bias into the results of these tests. While this problem is widely recognized, more work remains to compare its effect across tests and to determine the extent to which it is a problem for study short periods. This paper quantifies and compares the population shift bias present in the results of the Knox, Mantel, and Jacquez tests of space-time interaction. A simulation study is carried out which quantifies the bias present in each test across a variety of population movement scenarios. Results show a positive relationship between population shift bias and the heterogeneity in population growth across all the tests. They also demonstrate variability in the size of the bias across the three tests for space-time interaction considered. Finally, the results illustrate that population shift bias can be a serious problem for short study periods. Collectively, these findings suggest that an unbiased approach to assessing the significance of space-time interaction test results is needed whenever spatially heterogeneous population change is identified within a study area.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)500-512
Number of pages13
JournalComputers, Environment and Urban Systems
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2012


  • Jacquez test
  • Knox test
  • Mantel test
  • Population shift bias
  • Space-time interaction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Ecological Modeling
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Urban Studies


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