Projects Funded for Michael Anderson


The Academic Benefits of Healthy School Meals

  • Michael Anderson


The Effects the Supplemental Nutrition Program on Food Purchase Decision

  • Michael Anderson


Specific Objectives of the Project
Improving the nutritional content of school meals is a topic of intense policy interest. The primary motivation underlying these nutritional improvements is to increase student health and reduce childhood obesity rates. A question of comparable import, however, is whether healthier meals affect student achievement. To answer the question of whether the quality of school meals affects student achievement we exploit longitudinal variation in California school district contracts with meal vendors to estimate differences-in-differences type specifications. Using five years of detailed test score data for California public schools, our goal is to test whether contracting with “healthier” meal vendors significantly increases standardized test scores.

Project Report/Summary of Results
We find that contracting with a healthy meal vendor increases test scores by 0.03 standard deviations. This result is statistically significant and robust to the inclusion or exclusion of our time-varying covariates. In contrast there is no significant effect of contracting with a standard vendor. We also estimate effects separately for economically disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged students. We find that contracting with a healthy vendor has almost twice as large an effect on economically disadvantaged students (0.05 standard deviations) as it does on non-disadvantaged students. This may occur because economically disadvantaged students are more likely to eat school-provided meals or because economically disadvantaged students have poorer counterfactual nutrition intake (or both).


The Effects of Information Provision on Purchases of Food Away From Home

  • Jeremy Magruder
  • Michael Anderson


Do changes in food commodity prices have asymmetric effects on retail grocery prices? For years, farmers, consumer advocates and others have argued that grocery store prices rise rapidly in response to increases in commodity prices, but do not fall equally rapidly when commodity prices drop. We examine pricing in both stores that have regular sales and those that use everyday low pricing and rarely have sales. For both types of stores, we find very little evidence for asymmetric price adjustment. We believe that some earlier studies found asymmetric adjustments because they did not use narrowly defined products, control for all the main factor prices, and use state-of-the-arts estimation procedures.