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Speaking Stata: Replacing missing values: The easiest problems

Cox, Nicholas J.

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Missing values are common in real datasets, and what to do about them is a large and challenging question. This column focuses on the easiest problems in which a researcher is clear, or at least highly confident, about what missing values should be instead, implying a deterministic replacement. The main tricks are copying values from observation to observation and using the ipolate command. Both may often be extended simply to panel or longitudinal datasets or to other datasets with a group structure, such as data on individuals within families or households. This column includes how to satisfy constraints that interpolation is confined to filling gaps between values known to be equal or to observations moderately close to a known value in time or in some other sequence or position variable.


Cox, N. J. (2023). Speaking Stata: Replacing missing values: The easiest problems. The Stata Journal, 23(3), 884-896.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Aug 7, 2023
Online Publication Date Sep 22, 2023
Publication Date 2023-09
Deposit Date Oct 4, 2023
Publicly Available Date Oct 4, 2023
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 23
Issue 3
Pages 884-896
Keywords Mathematics (miscellaneous)
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Published Journal Article (200 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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