Discrete Markov chain models (DMCs) have been widely applied to the study of regional income distribution dynamics and convergence. This popularity reflects the rich body of DMC theory on the one hand and the ability of this framework to provide insights on the internal and external properties of regional income distribution dynamics on the other. In this paper we examine the properties of tests for spatial effects in DMC models of regional distribution dynamics. We do so through a series of Monte Carlo simulations designed to examine the size, power and robustness of tests for spatial heterogeneity and spatial dependence in transitional dynamics. This requires that we specify a data generating process for not only the null, but also alternatives when spatial heterogeneity or spatial dependence is present in the transitional dynamics. We are not aware of any work which has examined these types of data generating processes in the spatial distribution dynamics literature. Results indicate that tests for spatial heterogeneity and spatial dependence display good power for the presence of spatial effects. However, tests for spatial heterogeneity are not robust to the presence of strong spatial dependence, while tests for spatial dependence are sensitive to the spatial configuration of heterogeneity. When the spatial configuration can be considered random, dependence tests are robust to the dynamic spatial heterogeneity, but not so to the process mean heterogeneity when the difference in process means is large relative to the variance of the time series.