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

Publication type

ISER Working Paper Series

Series Number



ISER Working Paper Series


Publication date

July 20, 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.



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

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