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School Meals and
Classroom Performance:
Evidence from India
FarzanaAfridi, Bidisha Barooah and Rohini Somanathan
Delhi Sch...
Motivation
 Three possible mechanisms by which school meals
improve learning
 improved enrolment and attendance
 higher...
School meals and classroom
attention
 Possible positive effects
 Attention span and short-term memory
 Behavior- aggres...
Mid-day Meals in Delhi
Time Grades Program Features
1997-2003 1 to 5 Packaged food (biscuits)
July 2003 1 to 5 Cooked meal...
Study Design- I
 Conducted tests of attention in grades 5 and 7 in 18
randomly selected public schools in Delhi.
 Two ph...
Study Design-II
Phase 1 dates of
survey
Grade Phase 1
Meal status
Phase 2
Meal status
Treatment
status
1st August to 8th
S...
Study Design- III: Mazes
Maze Number Difficulty level for Grade 5
1 (Practice) 1
2 (Practice) 1
3 2
4 3
5 4
 Used in expe...
Data
 1213 students of grade 5 and 7 solved maze puzzles
in Phase 1
 Panel data of scores in mazes for 827 students
 Sc...
Summary statistic (Full Sample)
Uptake of School Meals
Baseline school summary
statistics
Control Schools
(N=7)
Treatment School
(N=10)
(1) (2)
Enrolment in Grade 5 (all section...
Baseline Grade 7 student summary
statistics
Baseline Grade 7 student
summary statistics
Maze Score (averaged over two
sessions)
Empirical Strategy
 Identification of treatment and control groups based on
 Unanticipated introduction of school meals
...
Estimating Equation
 MeanScoreijp = β0 + β1Phase2p+ β2(Treatj*Phase2p) + Xi + µj
+ eijp
 MeanScoreijp is the average of ...
Effect of school meals on
average scores
Robust SE in parenthesis. Bootstrapped SE in square brackets
School FE has contro...
Effect of school meals by
sessions
Session 1 is the session conducted before school meals
were served on the day of survey...
Effect on Nutritional Status and
Maze Score by Gender
Child Fixed Effects
Student Characteristics by
Gender
Discussion
 Overall positive effect on tests of
attention/concentration due to school meals
 Running the same analysis f...
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  1. 1. School Meals and Classroom Performance: Evidence from India FarzanaAfridi, Bidisha Barooah and Rohini Somanathan Delhi School of Economics, 2nd August 2013
  2. 2. Motivation  Three possible mechanisms by which school meals improve learning  improved enrolment and attendance  higher nutritional status and long-term cognition  greater attention/concentration in classroom tasks  We study the effect of school meals on attention in classroom task as opposed to cognition
  3. 3. School meals and classroom attention  Possible positive effects  Attention span and short-term memory  Behavior- aggressive, attention-deficit, hyperactivity  Hunger alleviation  Possible negative effects  Pressure on school resources (teacher time, space)  Post-lunch dip
  4. 4. Mid-day Meals in Delhi Time Grades Program Features 1997-2003 1 to 5 Packaged food (biscuits) July 2003 1 to 5 Cooked meals. 300 calories and 8- 10 grams of protein per day per child October 2006 1 to 5 450 calories and 8-10 grams of protein per day per child 29th Sep 2009 Extended to 6- 8 Cooked meals. Exact date of implementation unanticipated. Norms(each child per day): 1-5: 450 calories and 8-10 grams of protein 6-8: 700 calories and 9-12 grams of protein
  5. 5. Study Design- I  Conducted tests of attention in grades 5 and 7 in 18 randomly selected public schools in Delhi.  Two phases: Aug- Nov 2009; Feb- Apr 2010  Two sessions of solving mazes in one school day- beginning and end of day.  Students were given to solve the same mazes in both phases.
  6. 6. Study Design-II Phase 1 dates of survey Grade Phase 1 Meal status Phase 2 Meal status Treatment status 1st August to 8th September, 2009 7 No Yes Treatment 5 Yes Yes Placebo 8th October- 3rd November, 2009 7 Yes Yes Control 5 Yes Yes Placebo
  7. 7. Study Design- III: Mazes Maze Number Difficulty level for Grade 5 1 (Practice) 1 2 (Practice) 1 3 2 4 3 5 4  Used in experiments to measure effort (Gneezy et al, Nierdle et al)  Requires no long-term cognitive skills such as verbal ability or problem solving or reading and writing skills
  8. 8. Data  1213 students of grade 5 and 7 solved maze puzzles in Phase 1  Panel data of scores in mazes for 827 students  Score = # of mazes correct/ 3  Other controls: heights and weights, curriculum based test on math and language , dietary intake of that day, socio-economic indicators of a subsample of 10 students per grade
  9. 9. Summary statistic (Full Sample)
  10. 10. Uptake of School Meals
  11. 11. Baseline school summary statistics Control Schools (N=7) Treatment School (N=10) (1) (2) Enrolment in Grade 5 (all sections) 59.57 59.30 (9.413) (9.459) Enrolment in Grade 7 (all sections) 249.29 150.60 (56.018) (15.995) Attendance Rate in Grade 5 (all sections) 0.89 0.82 (0.023) (0.040) Attendance Rate in Grade 7 (all sections) 0.84 0.81 (0.030) (0.021) Grade 5 Score in Math and Language 3.13 2.88 (0.223) (0. 121) Grade 7 Score in Math and Language 4.19 3.93 (0.131) (0.341) Students able to solve IQ question 0.20 0.18 (0.019) (0.018) Time taken in distribution of MDM (in minutes) 56.42 29 (9.923) (6.741) Recess Duration (in minutes) 24.28 22.5 (2.02) (1.53)
  12. 12. Baseline Grade 7 student summary statistics
  13. 13. Baseline Grade 7 student summary statistics
  14. 14. Maze Score (averaged over two sessions)
  15. 15. Empirical Strategy  Identification of treatment and control groups based on  Unanticipated introduction of school meals  Random date of first visit to schools  Intention to Treat Estimator  Treatment status is by schools and not individuals
  16. 16. Estimating Equation  MeanScoreijp = β0 + β1Phase2p+ β2(Treatj*Phase2p) + Xi + µj + eijp  MeanScoreijp is the average of two sessions of the score of child i in Grade 7 of school j in Phase p.  Phase 2p is the dummy for Phase 2  Treatj is the dummy variable for schools that were surveyed before 29th September.  β2 is the treatment effect.  µj is the school FE. We also use individual FE.  Grade 5 acts as a placebo test
  17. 17. Effect of school meals on average scores Robust SE in parenthesis. Bootstrapped SE in square brackets School FE has controls such as BMI for age, gender, age and ability to solve IQ question Results unchanged for unbalanced panel school FE
  18. 18. Effect of school meals by sessions Session 1 is the session conducted before school meals were served on the day of survey. Session 2 is the session conducted after the lunch break was over. The average gap between the 2 sessions is 1 ½ hours.
  19. 19. Effect on Nutritional Status and Maze Score by Gender Child Fixed Effects
  20. 20. Student Characteristics by Gender
  21. 21. Discussion  Overall positive effect on tests of attention/concentration due to school meals  Running the same analysis for all students, results remain unchanged  Positive effect in pre-meal sessions in all schools  Positive effect in post-lunch break session in schools with higher scores in math and language  Significant gains in BMI for girls

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