Effects of Food-for-Education Programs on Child Health and School Participation in Lao PDR

Alison M. Buttenheim, University of Pennsylvania
Harold Alderman, World Bank Group

Despite the popularity and widespread implementation of school feeding programs, evidence on the impact of school feeding on school participation, educational achievement, and nutritional status is mixed. In this study we evaluate school feeding programs in three northern districts of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR). Feeding modalities included on-site feeding, take home rations, and a combination. District-level implementation of the interventions and selective takeup present considerable evaluation challenges. We use difference-in-difference estimators with propensity-score weighting to construct two plausible counterfactuals. We find minimal evidence that the school feeding schemes increased enrollment or improved children’s nutritional status. Several robustness checks and possible explanations for null findings are presented.

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Presented in Session 123: The Effect of Transfer Payments on Household Decisions