DP9031 School Meals as a Safety Net: An Evaluation of the Midday Meal Scheme in India

Author(s): Stefan Dercon, Albert Park, Abhijeet Singh
Publication Date: June 2012
Keyword(s): health, India, nutrition, school meals
JEL(s): I12, J13, O12, O15
Programme Areas: Development Economics
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=9031

Despite the popularity of school meals, little evidence exists on their effect on health outcomes. This study uses newly available longitudinal data from the state of Andhra Pradesh in India to estimate the impact of the introduction of a national midday meal program on anthropometric z-scores of primary school students, and investigates whether the program ameliorated the deterioration of health in young children caused by a severe drought. Correcting for self-selection into the program using a non-linearity in how age affects the probability of enrolment, we find that the program acted as a safety net for children, providing large and significant health gains for children whose families suffered from drought.