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The Impact of School Lunches on Primary School Enrollment: Evidence from India's Midday Meal Scheme

  • Rajshri Jayaraman
  • Dora Simroth
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    At the end of 2001, the Indian Supreme Court issued a directive ordering states to institute school lunches – known locally as “midday meals” – in government primary schools. This paper provides a large-scale assessment of the enrollment effects of India’s midday meal scheme, which offers warm lunches, free of cost, to 120 million primary school children across India and is the largest school feeding program in the world. To isolate the causal effect of the policy, we make use of staggered implementation across Indian states in government but not private schools. Using a panel data set of almost 500,000 schools observed annually from 2002 to 2004, we find that midday meals result in substantial increases in primary school enrollment, driven by early primary school responses to the program. Our results are robust to a wide range of specification tests.

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    File URL: http://www.cesifo-group.de/portal/page/portal/DocBase_Content/WP/WP-CESifo_Working_Papers/wp-cesifo-2011/wp-cesifo-2011-12/cesifo1_wp3679.pdf
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    Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 3679.

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    Date of creation: 2011
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    Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_3679
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    1. Chin, Aimee, 2005. "Can redistributing teachers across schools raise educational attainment? Evidence from Operation Blackboard in India," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 78(2), pages 384-405, December.
    2. Farzana Afridi, 2010. "The Impact of school meals on school participation: Evidence from rural India," Indian Statistical Institute, Planning Unit, New Delhi Discussion Papers 10-02, Indian Statistical Institute, New Delhi, India.
    3. Dreze, Jean & Goyal, Aparajita, 2003. "Future of Mid-Day Meals," MPRA Paper 17386, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Esther Duflo, 2000. "Schooling and Labor Market Consequences of School Construction in Indonesia: Evidence from an Unusual Policy Experiment," NBER Working Papers 7860, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Marianne Bertrand & Esther Duflo & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2002. "How Much Should We Trust Differences-in-Differences Estimates?," NBER Working Papers 8841, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Eric A. Hanushek, . "Interpreting Recent Research on Schooling in Developing Countries," Wallis Working Papers WP3, University of Rochester - Wallis Institute of Political Economy.
    7. Gauri, Varun, 2009. "Public interest litigation in India : overreaching or underachieving ?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5109, The World Bank.
    8. A. Colin Cameron & Jonah B. Gelbach & Douglas L. Miller, 2008. "Bootstrap-Based Improvements for Inference with Clustered Errors," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 90(3), pages 414-427, August.
    9. Geeta Gandhi Kingdon, 2007. "The progress of school education in India," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 23(2), pages 168-195, Summer.
    10. Kazianga, Harounan & de Walque, Damien & Alderman, Harold, 2009. "Educational and health impacts of two school feeding schemes : evidence from a randomized trial in rural Burkina Faso," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4976, The World Bank.
    11. Jonathan Gruber & Daniel M. Hungerman, 2008. "The Church versus the Mall: What Happens When Religion Faces Increased Secular Competition?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 123(2), pages 831-862, 05.
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