Using SpaceStat to identify Blue Zones (areas with a high proportion of the very old)

Posted on by BioMedware

Recently my colleague Huang Yi, PhD, Nantong University, and I published a paper that used SpaceStat to find Blue Zones in China.

The data came from the Chinese and local governments.  After loading and validating the data we used spatial time series methods to identify statistically significant Blue Zones.  We explored several indices that have been proposed for blue zone identification and report the following results (refer to abstract, below).  You can use the methods described in this paper to identify Blue Zones, and how their spatial distribution changes through time.


Influenced by a special local environment, the proportion of centenarians is particularly high in some places, known as “blue zones”. Blue zones are mysterious regions that continue to attract research. This paper explores the spatial distribution of the longevity population in a typical Chinese longevity region. Longevity evaluation indexes are used to analyze the longevity phenomenon in 88 towns between 2011 and 2015. Our research findings show that longevity is more important than birth rate and migration in shaping the degree of deep aging in the research region.

Fluctuations in the proportion of centenarians are much higher than for nonagenarians, both in relation to towns and to years. This is because there are so few centenarians that data collected over a short time period cannot accurately represent the overall degree of longevity in a small region; data and statistics must be collected over a longer time period to achieve this. GIS analysis revealed a stable longevity zone located in the center of the research region. This area seems to help people live more easily to 90–99 years old; however, its ability to help nonagenarians live to 100 is a weaker effect.

Identification of a Blue Zone in a Typical Chinese Longevity Region. Available from: [accessed May 28, 2017].