Skip to content

ISER Working Paper Series 2012-12

Take-up of Free School Meals: price effects and peer effects


Publication date

20 Jul 2012


Almost 300,000 entitled children do not participate
in the UK’s Free School Meals (FSM) programme, worth up to £400 per year.
Welfare take-up can be deterred by stigma and lack of information. This paper uses a
school-level dataset and fixed-effect instrumental variables strategy to show
that peer-group participation has a substantial role in overcoming these
barriers. Identification of endogenous peer effects is achieved by exploiting a
scheme which extended FSM entitlement to all children in some school cohorts.
Results show that in a typical school a 10 percentage point rise in peer-group
take-up would reduce non-participation by almost a quarter.


Education, Welfare Benefits, and Health


Is referred to by: Finn, D. and Goodship, J. (2014) Take-up of benefits and poverty: an evidence and policy review. London: Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion

Paper download  

Related publications

  1. More than just nutrition

    Angus Holford

  2. Encouraging take-up of FSM

    Angus Holford

  3. Policy and Politics - Interview : Angus Holford

    Angus Holford

  4. Poor families 'shunning free school meals'

    Angus Holford

  5. Poor families 'shunning free school meals'

    Angus Holford

  6. LACA response to ISER research into free school meals

    Angus Holford

  7. Poor children shun Free School Meals for stigma-free sandwich

    Angus Holford

  8. Thousands shamed out of free school meals

    Angus Holford

  9. Thousands of pupils shamed out of free school meals

    Angus Holford


Research home

Research home


Latest findings, new research

Publications search

Search all research by subject and author


Researchers discuss their findings and what they mean for society


Background and context, methods and data, aims and outputs


Conferences, seminars and workshops

Survey methodology

Specialist research, practice and study

Taking the long view

ISER's annual report


Key research themes and areas of interest