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st: drop 'em OR it depends

From   Tim <>
Subject   st: drop 'em OR it depends
Date   Sun, 20 Jul 2008 14:57:00 +1000

New semester starts in about a week.
One thing I had difficulty with last semester was getting the data provided into the form needed for the analysis. I could get reshape to work, but had to look it up every time, and it still took several attempts every time.
So I've been looking again at Hills and De Stavola, "A short introduction to Stata for biostatistics", chapter 9. (files at net from; net get book)
In section 9.5 they cover reshape.
In section 9.6 they cover _N and _n.
The examples in section 9.6 use the fevlong dataset. When I tried using fevwide reshaped to long, I did not get the results in the book. Only after dropping missing observations did it work.

So my question is, should dropping missing obs be normal practice after reshaping from wide to long, or does it depend on what I want to do with the long dataset?
And if I dont' drop 'em always, when do I keep them?

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