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Justin Gallagher

Assistant Professor, Economics

Weatherhead School of Management, Case Western Reserve University

My Primary research field is environmental economics, with a broad interest in household finance, labor economics, and public economics. The central theme of my research is investigating how individuals evaluate and respond to environmental risks.

Work in progress includes a project that examines how infrastructure externalities affect public investment decisions. The work is supported by the National Science Foundation through NSF grant 1638320.

In a recent working paper, co-authors and I test whether there is a relationship between offering healthier school lunches at public schools and student academic achievement. Read media coverage from The Atlantic. Here is the abstract:

Improving the nutritional content of public school meals is a topic of intense policy interest. A main motivation is the health of school children, and, in particular, the rising childhood obesity rate. Medical and nutrition literature has long argued that a healthy diet can have a second important impact: improved cognitive function. In this paper, we test whether offering healthier lunches affects student achievement as measured by test scores. Our sample includes all California (CA) public schools over a five-year period. We estimate difference-in-difference style regressions using variation that takes advantage of frequent lunch vendor contract turnover. Students at schools that contract with a healthy school lunch vendor score higher on CA state achievement tests, with larger test score increases for students who are eligible for reduced price or free school lunches. We do not find any evidence that healthier school lunches lead to a decrease in obesity rates.