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School Feeding and Learning Achievement: Evidence from India's Midday Meal Program

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  • Chakraborty, Tanika

    (Indian Institute of Management)

  • Jayaraman, Rajshri

    (European School of Management and Technology (ESMT))

Abstract

We study the effect of the world's largest school feeding program on children's learning outcomes. Staggered implementation across different states of a 2001 Indian Supreme Court Directive mandating the introduction of free school lunches in public primary schools generates plausibly exogenous variation in program exposure across different birth cohorts. We exploit this to estimate the effect of program exposure on math and reading test scores of primary school-aged children. We find that midday meals have a dramatic positive effect on learning achievement: children with up to 5 years of primary school exposure improve their test scores by approximately 10-20%. We further investigate various channels that may account for this improvement including enrollment and nutrition-learning effects, heterogeneous responses by socio-economic status, complementary schooling inputs, and intra-household redistribution.

Suggested Citation

  • Chakraborty, Tanika & Jayaraman, Rajshri, 2016. "School Feeding and Learning Achievement: Evidence from India's Midday Meal Program," IZA Discussion Papers 10086, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp10086
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    Cited by:

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    2. Aurino, Elisabetta & Fledderjohann, Jasmine & Vellakkal, Sukumar, 2019. "Inequalities in adolescent learning: Does the timing and persistence of food insecurity at home matter?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 70(C), pages 94-108.
    3. Lahoti, Rahul & Sahoo, Soham, 2020. "Are educated leaders good for education? Evidence from India," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 176(C), pages 42-62.
    4. Roxana Elena Manea, 2020. "School Feeding Programmes, Education and Food Security in Rural Malawi," CIES Research Paper series 63-2020, Centre for International Environmental Studies, The Graduate Institute.
    5. Suman Chakrabarti & Samuel P. Scott & Harold Alderman & Purnima Menon & Daniel O. Gilligan, 2021. "Intergenerational nutrition benefits of India’s national school feeding program," Nature Communications, Nature, vol. 12(1), pages 1-10, December.
    6. Ogundari, Kolawole, 2021. "A systematic review of statistical methods for estimating an education production function," MPRA Paper 105283, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. Drèze, Jean & Khera, Reetika, 2017. "Recent Social Security Initiatives in India," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 98(C), pages 555-572.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    school feeding; learning; midday meal; primary school education;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • I25 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Economic Development
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development

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