Degree Year


Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts




Hirschel Kasper


Breakfast, School, Education, Classroom performance, School Breakfast Program, United States, Educational effect


This paper evaluates short- and long-term academic effects of the US School Breakfast Program (SBP). The paper divides into four sections: an introduction (page 4), a literature review (page 11), a statistical model (page 31), and an empirical model (page 38). In the first section, we cover general facts and details about the SBP. In the second section, we first review literature relevant to the SBP (supply, demand, and short-term effects studies). Next, we explore studies of the long-term effects of schooling and of school quality. Many of the techniques and information from these studies relate to our discussion of long-term effects of the SBP. In the third section, we formalize our argument that the SBP exercises short- and long-term effects on students' performance. Our discussion of the statistical model follows the format of the flow chart on page 86. In the fourth section, we empirically test the hypotheses that the SBP improves students' attendance and expected education levels. We use pooled statewide aggregate data to measure attendance rates, and we use cross-sectional longitudinal data to measure education levels. We find that the SBP does raise attendance and education levels. We are able to quantify the attendance effect and decompose it into two separate effects. We are not able to quantify the effect on educational attainment, but we do find a lower bound for the SBP's effect on high school graduation. Given this lower bound, we are able to calculate a lower bound for the income effect of the SBP. We compare our calculated income effect with two possible alternatives. We find that a dollar spent on the SBP yields a substantially higher return than the 10-year Treasury Bill interest rate. We also find that, dollar for dollar, the SBP's income effect rivals Card and Krueger's estimated income effect for classroom size reduction. We do not find convincing evidence that this return can be achieved by indiscriminately increasing the number of SBP participants. These findings indicate that recent efforts to expand the SBP through universal free breakfasts could be better directed. Indiscriminate expansion of the SBP does earn a fairly high return. Nevertheless, our research suggests that selective expansion of the SBP could capitalize on significantly higher economic returns.

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Economics Commons