Schools Meals, Educational Achievement and School Competition: Evidence from a Randomized Evaluation

52 Pages Posted: 10 Jan 2017

See all articles by Christel Vermeersch

Christel Vermeersch

World Bank

Michael Kremer

Harvard University - Department of Economics; Brookings Institution; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Center for Global Development; Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Date Written: February 11, 2005

Abstract

This paper examines the effects of subsidized school meals on school participation, educational achievement, and school finance in a developing country setting. The paper uses data from a program that was implemented in 25 randomly chosen preschools in a pool of 50. Children's school participation was 30 percent higher in the treatment group than in the comparison group. The meals program led to higher curriculum test scores, but only in schools where the teacher was relatively experienced prior to the program. The school meals displaced teaching time and led to larger class sizes. Despite improved incentives, teacher absenteeism remained at a high level of 30 percent. Treatment schools raised their fees, and comparison schools close to treatment schools decreased their fees. Some of the price effects are due to a combination of capacity constraints and pupil transfers that would not happen if the school meals were offered in all schools. The intention-to-treat estimator of the effect of the randomized program incorporates those price effects, and therefore it should be considered a lower bound on the effect of generalized school meals. This insight on price effects generalizes to other randomized program evaluations.

Keywords: School Health, Public Health Promotion, Teaching and Learning, Primary Education, Health Monitoring & Evaluation, Primary Education, Health Monitoring & Evaluation, Teaching and Learning, Gender and Education, Adolescent Health

Suggested Citation

Vermeersch, Christel and Kremer, Michael R., Schools Meals, Educational Achievement and School Competition: Evidence from a Randomized Evaluation (February 11, 2005). World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 3523. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2894720

Michael R. Kremer

Harvard University - Department of Economics ( email )

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