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Comparing SAS and STATA for Data Analysis: Pros and Cons

May 15, 2023
Emily Kerby
Emily Kerby
Emily Kerby, headquartered in Australia, is a highly renowned expert in statistical analysis and data science. She has made major contributions to the application of statistical methods in many industries with over 15 years of expertise.

Data analysis is important in many sectors and research fields because it allows professionals to derive valuable insights from raw data. SAS (Statistical Analysis System) and STATA are two common data analysis software applications. Each platform has its own set of features, functions, and user communities. In this article, we will compare SAS and STATA, examining their advantages and disadvantages to assist you in making an informed decision when selecting the proper tool for your data analysis needs.

  1. SAS and STATA Overview
  2. SAS:

    SAS, developed by SAS Institute, is a premier software package noted for its adaptability and excellent data analysis capabilities. It has been a major participant in the analytics market for several decades and is widely utilized by experts in a variety of industries.

    1. Advanced Analytics and Business Intelligence: SAS offers a comprehensive collection of advanced analytics and business intelligence solutions. It provides a variety of statistical processes, such as regression analysis, multivariate analysis, time series analysis, and survival analysis. Users can utilize these techniques to investigate relationships, find patterns, and make data-driven decisions.
    2. Data Management: SAS has strong data management capabilities. It supports a variety of data types and includes data cleaning, manipulation, merging, and transformation functions. SAS procedures and functions enable users to efficiently handle big datasets and perform complicated data manipulations.
    3. SAS has its programming language, which is known as the SAS Language. It includes a comprehensive collection of data manipulation methods, statistical algorithms, and control structures for developing bespoke analyses and automating activities. The SAS Language enables efficient and versatile data processing, making it a popular choice among programmers.
    4. SAS places a strong emphasis on data protection and governance. It has capabilities for data access management, data encryption, and auditing, ensuring the security of sensitive data. SAS also supports industry norms and standards, making it ideal for enterprises dealing with sensitive data.


    STATA is a statistical software package developed by StataCorp that has garnered recognition for its user-friendly interface, robust statistical analysis capabilities, and emphasis on reproducible research.

    1. STATA's intuitive user interface is well-known for its simplicity and ease of use. It has a command-line interface as well as a point-and-click interface, making it usable by users with varied levels of programming knowledge. The command-line interface allows users to run commands directly, whereas the point-and-click interface allows users to perform analysis visually.
    2. STATA's statistical analysis capabilities include a wide range of statistical methods and models. It consists of regression analysis (linear, logistic, and robust), multivariate analysis (factor analysis, cluster analysis), time series analysis (ARIMA, GARCH), survival analysis (Kaplan-Meier, Cox regression), and many more techniques. Users can utilize these processes to perform advanced analyses and make relevant conclusions from their data.
    3. Reproducible Research: STATA places a high value on reproducible research. It enables users to build do-files, which are scripts that comprise a series of tasks, to help with analysis documentation and replication. This feature encourages transparency by allowing others to replicate the same study by just running the do-file.
    4. Graphics and visualization: STATA has several graphing tools for data visualization. Users can make a variety of graphs, such as scatter plots, line graphs, bar charts, histograms, and others. STATA's graphing capabilities include customization options that allow users to customize the visual representation of their data.
    5. STATA can be integrated with other software tools and formats, allowing for easy data import and export. It allows users to deal with data from various sources by importing and exporting data in formats such as Excel, CSV, SPSS, and SAS.

    SAS and STATA are both effective software tools with distinct capabilities. SAS provides comprehensive analytics, substantial data management, and a robust programming language. It is frequently utilized in businesses that necessitate significant data processing and manipulation. STATA, on the other hand, has an easy-to-use interface, thorough statistical analysis processes, and a focus on repeatable research. It is often utilized in domains like social sciences, economics, and research where intuitive analysis and documentation are critical.

  3. Data Management and User Interface
  4. SAS:

    SAS provides a programming-based interface via which users can write and run SAS code. SAS Enterprise Guide is a graphical user interface (GUI) that streamlines the data analysis process for non-programmers.

    Data Management: SAS provides excellent data management features, allowing users to efficiently modify, process, and clean massive datasets. It supports a variety of data types and includes tools for data merging, sorting, filtering, and variable creation.


    STATA's user interface is well-known for its simplicity and ease of use. It has a command-line interface as well as a point-and-click interface, making it usable by users with varied levels of programming knowledge.

    Data Management: STATA has robust data management facilities that allow users to easily import, clean, and manipulate datasets. It provides data sorting, merging, reshaping, and variable creation functionalities.

  5. Capabilities for Statistical Analysis
  6. SAS:

    SAS provides a broad collection of regression algorithms, such as linear regression, logistic regression, and mixed-effects models. It also offers advanced model diagnostics and choosing possibilities.

    SAS offers a variety of multivariate analysis techniques, including factor analysis, cluster analysis, and principal component analysis (PCA). These methods are effective for investigating links and trends in large datasets.

    SAS provides a wide range of time series analysis processes, such as forecasting, ARIMA models, and seasonal adjustment. It enables effective modeling and analysis of time-dependent data.

    Survival Analysis: SAS offers time-to-event data survival analysis algorithms such as Kaplan-Meier estimation, Cox regression, and competing risks analysis.


    STATA provides a broad array of regression models, including linear regression, logistic regression, and robust regression. It has a wide range of diagnostics, model comparisons, and post-estimation analysis tools.

    STATA supports a variety of multivariate analytic techniques, including factor analysis, cluster analysis, and discriminant analysis. These strategies assist researchers in investigating hidden dimensions and groupings within datasets.

    Time Series Analysis: STATA has a comprehensive range of time series analysis tools, such as ARIMA models, vector autoregression (VAR), and generalized autoregressive conditional heteroskedasticity (GARCH) models. It enables time-dependent data modeling and forecasting.

    STATA provides survival analysis algorithms such as Kaplan-Meier estimation, Cox regression, and parametric survival models. These techniques can be used to analyze survival times and event occurrences.

  7. Scripting and Programming
  8. SAS:

    SAS Programming Language: SAS has its programming language that is frequently used for data analysis and manipulation. It provides a powerful and adaptable vocabulary for developing custom procedures, data transformations, and data cleaning activities.

    SAS includes macros and loops, which allow users to automate repetitive activities and build reusable code. It also has looping structures for iterating through datasets and performing actions on data subsets.


    STATA Language: STATA has its command-based programming language for statistical analysis. The language is simple to learn and read, making it appropriate for individuals with little programming experience.

    STATA employs do-files to execute a series of commands, making it simple to replicate analyses and share code with others. Loops and conditional expressions can be used in Do-files, allowing for rapid data processing and analysis.

  9. Data Visualization
  10. SAS:

    Graphics & Visualization Tools: SAS includes a variety of data visualization tools, such as bar charts, scatter plots, histograms, and heat maps. It provides editable templates and themes for producing aesthetically appealing images.

    Reporting Capabilities: SAS's reporting tools enable the creation of interactive reports and dashboards. Dynamic reports including tables, graphs, and statistical summaries can be generated by users.


    STATA has a rich set of graphing tools, allowing users to produce a range of plots such as line graphs, scatterplots, box plots, and dot plots. It allows for graph customization, labeling, and styling.

    STATA users can generate well-formatted reports in a variety of formats, including PDF, HTML, and Word. It is in favor of including graphs, tables, and descriptive data in reports.

  11. Collaboration and Data Sharing
  12. SAS:

    SAS Data Sets: SAS datasets are a proprietary data format that can be exchanged among SAS users. These datasets keep their information, variable formats, and labels, which ensures consistency and reproducibility.

    SAS can be integrated with other tools and databases, allowing for data sharing and collaboration across multiple platforms.


    STATA Data Files: STATA stores datasets in its file format (.dta). Other users can easily share and open these files in STATA. Variable labels, value labels, and other metadata are preserved in STATA datasets.

    STATA can connect with other file formats like Excel, CSV, and SPSS, allowing users to import and export data between STATA and other software applications.

  13. Documentation and the Learning Curve
  14. SAS:

    SAS has a longer learning curve, owing mostly to its programming-based interface and complicated terminology. SAS may take considerable time to become adept for users with limited programming knowledge.

    SAS includes substantial documentation, including user guides, manuals, and online tools. From fundamental data manipulation to advanced statistical processes, the documentation covers a wide range of topics.


    STATA has a reasonably easy learning curve due to its user-friendly UI and intuitive commands. Users with no programming background can rapidly understand the fundamentals and begin doing analyses.

    STATA includes extensive documentation, including a user's guide and various online resources. Data administration, statistical analysis, and programming approaches are among the topics covered in the documentation.

  15. Licensing and Pricing
  16. SAS:

    SAS uses a commercial pricing model and offers various packages and modules with differing functionality. SAS licenses can be expensive, especially for enterprises that require advanced analytics capabilities.

    Individual and enterprise license options are available from SAS. Depending on their demands and budget, users can select between perpetual licenses and subscription-based models.


    STATA's pricing approach is tiered, with multiple editions catering to varied user requirements. STATA licenses are often less expensive than SAS licenses, making them a more accessible option for private users and academic organizations.

    STATA provides perpetual licenses, annual licenses, and concurrent user licenses. Users can choose the licensing option that best fits their usage habits and organizational needs.

  17. Community and Help
  18. SAS:

    SAS Communities: SAS offers an active user community that includes forums, message boards, and online communities. Users can ask for help, pose questions, and share their knowledge and experiences with other SAS users.

    SAS offers a variety of support solutions, including technical help, documentation, and training resources. Users can access online documentation, submit support tickets, and take part in SAS training programs.


    STATA User Communities: STATA has an active user community with user groups and forums. These communities provide a forum for users to engage, discuss ideas, and seek assistance from other STATA users.

    StataCorp provides licensed users with technical help via email and phone. Users can also find solutions to common problems by using online resources such as FAQs, user guides, and video tutorials.


SAS and STATA are both sophisticated data analysis software programs, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. SAS provides excellent statistical capabilities, substantial data management capabilities, and a powerful programming language. It is frequently employed in fields where complicated analysis and large-scale data manipulation are widespread, such as healthcare and finance.

STATA, on the other hand, has an easy-to-use interface, clear instructions, and comprehensive statistical methods. It is popular among social scientists, economists, and epidemiologists who appreciate its simplicity and reproducibility.

Consider aspects such as your specific analytical goals, data management requirements, programming expertise, and financial limits when deciding between SAS and STATA. Consider the features available, the learning curve associated with each tool, and the level of support and community interaction offered.

Finally, the decision between SAS and STATA is influenced by your preferences, the nature of your data analysis jobs, and the resources at your disposal. Both technologies have a track record of success in their respective sectors, and choosing the proper tool will greatly improve your capacity to extract useful insights from your data.

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