practice of imploring others to grant a favor with little or no expectation of reciprocation
(Redirected from Beggar)

Begging means asking people for money, food, shelter or other things, when one is not able to give anything instead. It is also referred to as sponging, spanging (short for "spare-changing") or (in American English) panhandling.

Beggar in Minneapolis, Minnesota
Sub-Saharan woman begging with her baby in Algeria

In larger cities, it is common to see beggars who ask for money, food, or other items. Typically, beggars often beg for spare change using coffee cups, mugs, small boxes, hats, or other items into which monies can be placed and sometimes display signs with messages such as "Help me. I'm homeless."

Use of funds obtained by beggingEdit

A 2002 study of 54 panhandlers in Toronto reported that of a median monthly income of $638 CAD, those interviewed spent a median of $200 CAD on food and $192 CAD on alcohol, tobacco and illegal drugs.[1] The Fraser Institute, however, criticized this study. They said there were many forms of begging including ones in which good money can be earned. They also said that panhandlers' reports were not reliable [2]

Because of this, some people say that it would be better to give the beggars gift cards or food/service vouchers, instead of money.[3] Some shelters also offer business cards with information on the shelter's location and services, which can be given instead of cash.[4]

Aggressive panhandlingEdit

Aggressive panhandling means to ask for donations or help in a threatening manner. This is not mugging, but rather similar and therefore often forbidden by law. Examples include:

  • Asking customers inside a store or restaurant.
  • Extending a hand, or even the head and both arms, into a car window
  • Asking after dark, in a secluded area.
  • There have been reports of beggars who will try to have their limbs amputated in the hope that they can get more out of sympathy.[5]

Well known beggarsEdit

Related pagesEdit


  1. Income and spending patterns among panhandlers, by Rohit Bose and Stephen W. Hwang.Bose, Rohit and Hwang, Stephen W. (2002-09-03). "Income and spending patterns among panhandlers". Canadian Medical Association Journal. pp. 167(5): 477–479. Retrieved 2006-09-29. Check date values in: |date= (help)CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  2. Bose/Hwang study "Begging for Data". CANSTATS. 3 September 2002. Archived from the original on 2006-04-20. Retrieved 2006-09-29. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  3. "Real Change, not Spare Change". Portland Business Alliance. Archived from the original on 2006-11-13. Retrieved 2006-09-30.
  4. Peace Studies Program. "Homelessness Contact Cards". George Washington University. Archived from the original on 2006-09-09. Retrieved 2006-09-30.
  5. Sudworth, John (2006-07-31). "Inquiry into 'beggar amputations'". BBC. Retrieved 2006-09-29. Check date values in: |date= (help)

Further materialEdit

  • Born Losers: A History of Failure in America, by Scott A. Sandage (Harvard University Press, 2005).