Designing effective transfers: Lessons from India’s school meal program
Review of Development Economics
We estimate attendance gains for primary school children from a cost-neutral change in the design of India’s school meal program. Municipal schools in the capital region of Delhi shifted from packaged food to cooked meals in 2003, with no change in payments to meal providers. Using the staggered implementation of this transition and child-level panel data, we estimate a 3 percentage point increase in average monthly attendance, with large effects for early grades. We also find that girls are more responsive to the cooked meals, but because they attend morning schools, whereas boys attend afternoon schools, this may simply reflect benefits from better-timed meals. Our study illustrates how better-designed transfers can improve outcomes within tightly constrained budgets.
Afridi, Farzana; Barooah, Bidisha; and Somanathan, Rohini, "Designing effective transfers: Lessons from India’s school meal program" (2020). Journal Articles. 410.