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School feeding and learning achievement: Evidence from India's midday meal program

Tanika Chakraborty and Rajshri Jayaraman

Journal of Development Economics, 2019, vol. 139, issue C, 249-265

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 prolonged exposure to midday meals has a robust positive effect on learning achievement. We further investigate various channels that may account for this improvement including complementary schooling inputs, heterogeneous responses by socio-economic status, and intra-household redistribution.

Keywords: School feeding; Learning; Midday meal; Primary school education (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: I21 I25 O12 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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Handle: RePEc:eee:deveco:v:139:y:2019:i:c:p:249-265