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Speaking Stata: The largest five - A tale of tail values

Cox, Nicholas J.

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How do you work with the largest five, or smallest five, or any other fixed number of values in a tail of a distribution? In this column, I give examples of problems and code for basic calculations as a prelude to graphics, tables, and more detailed analysis. The main illustration is analysis of concentration among firms or companies, with wider discussion mentioning hydrology, climatology, cryptography, and ecology. The examples allow a tutorial covering sorting and ranking and using if and in to select observations, by: as a framework for groupwise calculations, indicator variables as a mode of selection, and egen as a Swiss Army knife with many handy functions.


Cox, N. J. (2022). Speaking Stata: The largest five - A tale of tail values. The Stata Journal, 22(2), 446-459.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 25, 2022
Online Publication Date Jun 30, 2022
Publication Date 2022
Deposit Date Jul 28, 2022
Publicly Available Date Jul 28, 2022
Journal The Stata Journal: Promoting communications on statistics and Stata
Print ISSN 1536-867X
Electronic ISSN 1536-8734
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 22
Issue 2
Pages 446-459
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Published Journal Article (261 Kb)

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Copyright Statement
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License ( which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages (

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