Student finds panhandling can pay

first_imgLast summer, before his senior year at George Fox University, economics student David Spears II trekked out to the exit ramp near his home in Oregon City, Ore., to learn how much panhandlers earn.In his book “Exit Ramp: A Short Case Study of the Profitability of Panhandling,” the 31-year-old Iraq War veteran documents a two-week period spent as an undercover panhandler. With a clipboard attached to the back of his cardboard sign, he gathered info about the cash and the people who gave it to him.“From an economist’s view, there is a lot of incentive to panhandle,” Spears said.Over the course of his study, he earned an average hourly rate of $11.08, more than his last job working mall security. With taxes, a person would have to earn about $13 an hour to get the same pay rate, he said. On his best day, he made $24.63 per hour — nearly three times Oregon’s minimum wage — and on his worst day, which was also his first day, he collected $5.13 per hour. Lunchtime proved to be the most profitable, when he would consistently earn above minimum wage.Besides money, he got more than $80 in gifts — sports drinks, gift cards, cigarettes, beer, bottled water, beef jerky, homeless care packages — as well as some sage advice and even a job offer. Vets and Veterans Affairs caseworkers offered him rides to the local office.“I was really surprised by the vibrant generosity people showed me,” Spears said of those who showed earnest concern and stopped to offer advice. He’s skeptical, though, of those who just handed, or threw, him a few bucks. “How do we know this generosity is actually effective?”last_img


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