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

28 Pages Posted: 30 Sep 2015

See all articles by Rajshri Jayaraman

Rajshri Jayaraman

ESMT European School of Management and Technology

Dora Simroth

ESMT European School of Management and Technology

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: October 2015

Abstract

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. In this paper we provide 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 its staggered implementation across Indian states in government but not private schools. Using a panel dataset of more than 420,000 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.

Keywords: Natural experiment, school feeding, school participation

JEL Classification: D0, I25, O12

Suggested Citation

Jayaraman, Rajshri and Simroth, Dora, The Impact of School Lunches on Primary School Enrollment: Evidence from India's Midday Meal Scheme (October 2015). The Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Vol. 117, Issue 4, pp. 1176-1203, 2015, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2667298 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/sjoe.12116

Rajshri Jayaraman (Contact Author)

ESMT European School of Management and Technology ( email )

Schlossplatz 1
Berlin, Berlin 10178
Germany

Dora Simroth

ESMT European School of Management and Technology ( email )

Schlossplatz 1
10117 Berlin
Germany

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