Does the Provision of Universal Free School Meals Improve School Attendance and Behaviour?

Daniel Borbely, Markus Gehrsitz, Gennaro Rossi, Stuart McIntyre

Research output: Working paper/PreprintDiscussion paper

Abstract

The importance of universal free school meals (UFSM) provision has been the subject of significant debate over the past decade. In this study we examine the effect of UFSM policies on school attendance, health-related absence and students' misbehaviour. We leverage UFSM implementation in Scotland where all pupils in the first three grades of primary schools became automatically entitled to claim free meals, regardless of their households' financial circumstances. We estimate a difference-indifferences model with variation in treatment intensity and find, in spite of a large increase in uptakes, that attendance and school discipline have not improved significantly. These estimates are close to zero and precisely estimated. We also show that effect heterogeneity does not explain the null effect.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherUniversity of Strathclyde
Number of pages37
Volume05
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jun 2022

Publication series

NameStrathclyde Discussion Papers in Economics
PublisherUniversity of Strathclyde

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