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School Breakfast Programmes - Value for Money?

Presentation for Social Service Providers Aotearoa, Christchurch (11 Feb 2013); Welltington (14 Feb 2013)

Eric Crampton

on 17 February 2013

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Transcript of School Breakfast Programmes - Value for Money?

School breakfast programmes and beyond Value for Money? The Kiwi Breakfast The 2007 Children's Food and Drink Survey
(Health Sponsorship Council) Assessing Breakfast Effects School Breakfast Programmes:
the evidence, home & abroad SBP: Value for money? International studies show SBP improves nutrition but little effect on other outcomes except when provided comprehensively and at high cost;
We have no basis for assessing that SBP is more or less valued, or effective, than a simple cash transfer to low-decile parents;
NZ's recent RCT trial matches international experience 94% of parents and caregivers said their children had breakfast most school days (83% every day)
6% said their child never ate breakfast on school days; 3% said the child never ate breakfast on weekends.
2% of children aged 5-7, 3% aged 8-12, and 14% of those 13-16 always skip breakfast
8% of each age group sometimes skip Children's Nutrition Survey MoH 2002 3.6% of households often run out of basic food (18.5% sometimes)
2.8% often have smaller meals than they would like or skip meals (15.3% sometimes)
6.4% often are stressed about lack of money for food (18.1% sometimes) However, severe food insecurity is concentrated:
within high deprivation areas (8-15% reporting)
among Maori (6-12% reporting)
within larger families of 5+ children (6-13% reporting) It isn't enough to know that kids without breakfast fare worse. Poorer cohorts are more likely to have worse outcomes without or without breakfast;
Simple regression analysis misses important parenting heterogeneity;
More powerful identification techniques are needed.
BUT, what's the counterfactual? School Breakfast Programmes: The Theory SBP as income
SBP preferable to income
SBP mechanisms:
nutrition. SBP do not increase a child's likelihood of eating breakfast;
SBP can improve nutrition;
Crowding out matters;
Most studies find no effect on academic outcomes.
Exception: where undertaken as in-class universal activity Alderman & Bundy 2012, World Bank Research Observer: Do the results reviewed here imply that FFE is among the best investments in nutrition? Despite new evidence indicating favorable externalities to siblings of students, and the clear benefit in addressing hunger in schoolchildren, the fair answer to this question is no. While FFE can provide iron and other key micronutrients, these programs are not designed to address the most critical nutritional constraints in low income settings, simply because they are not targeted at the most vulnerable period in child development, which is between conception and two years of age. Do the results imply that FFE is the best way to use funds for education? Again, the quick answer is likely no. An Auckland Experiment Mhurchu, Gorton et al 2012:
RCT across 14 Decile 1-4 schools in Auckland, Waikato, Wellington, 2010.
Schools all began as control group, switching to treatment at a random point. Breakfast clubs averaged 25 students per school. Results:
No change in school attendance
No change in likelihood of eating breakfast
Kids switched from home to school
No effect on academic achievement
No effect on self-reported grades
No effect on "sense of belonging at school".
No effect on behaviour
Kids said they were less hungry: timing? Alternative approaches:
Early Childhood Intervention A growing economic literature suggests very early intervention has the highest return
Early investments have direct benefits and also increase the returns to later investment Preschools Head Start, targeted at disadvantaged children aged 3-5, provides quality ECE.
Careful studies show reduced behavioural problems, reduced grade repetition, reduced depression, reduced obesity, other beneficial outcomes;
Benefits seem concentrated among girls;
More intensive programmes, like Perry and Abacedarian, had larger effects, but were more costly and involved small samples. Dr. Eric Crampton
Department of Economics
University of Canterbury
Full transcript