Policy for Panhandling: How to Encourage Good Panhandling and Discourage Bad

Dordick, Gwendolyn; O'Flaherty, Brendan Andrew

What does wise public policy toward panhandling look like? When a willing, reasonably well informed donor gives money to a panhandler, both are better off, and inequality goes down. Policy should encourage transactions like this. When a pedestrian is upset by a panhandler’s presence, does not give, and maybe even alters course, no one is better off and at least one person is worse off. Policy should discourage this kind of interaction. We examine an array of programs to deal with panhandling to see how well they encourage welfare-improving interactions and discourage welfare-reducing ones. Tentatively, credentialing programs are the most promising.


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May 31, 2017