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Exit Ramp: A Short Case Study of the Profitability of Panhandling
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Exit Ramp: A Short Case Study of the Profitability of Panhandling

3.49  ·  Rating details ·  124 ratings  ·  16 reviews
Have you ever wondered how much that guy with the cardboard sign makes?

One economics student did and he decided to find out. During the summer of his senior year at college, while earning a B.A. in Economics and Political Science, David P. Spears spent eighty hours undercover as a panhandler. Systematically recording every transaction at the exit ramp, Spears captured a ra
Paperback, 102 pages
Published August 15th 2013 by Madison Street Publishing (first published August 6th 2013)
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3.49  · 
Rating details
 ·  124 ratings  ·  16 reviews

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Jul 27, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ben Snyder
Feb 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting read.

This was suggested to me in Prime reading. It was short, had a somewhat interesting title, and actually posed a question that I have wondered about myself. I don't regret spending the time reading it and would suggest it to my friends threadbare my inquisitive view on the world around us.
Tyson Sontag
Nov 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Confirms my suspicions

When I was finishing my degree, by going to class two nights a week after work, I drove past two offramps that led to Wal-Mart's home office. Over the course of the semester, I saw what looked like the same two people at the intersections. I am now wondering how much money they made over the course of the semester?
Eric Johnson
Reads like an economics thesis, but I had always wondered about how much the people at the highway exits made. Small sample size makes the results questionable. Interesting economic read but overall just an ok read.
Bruce Stopher
Dec 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
Nice to see that someone else has wondered about how much a panhandler can make in a day. I particularly like that he included the non-monetary gifts.
Alan Cohen
Dec 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Unusual project

Interesting study of something everyone wonders about. Scientific yet amazingly candid accounts of first person experiences on the corner. Recommend reading.
Kaye Tempalski
Aug 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Neat read

I'm not usually into reading books about economics or statistics, but I thought the subject matter sounded interesting, so I gave it a shot. What a neat read.
Melissa Rochelle
I feel like there's a much less dry way to tell this kind of story and make this kind of point (like Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America). It was interesting, but not at all entertaining.
Feb 08, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, money
The author spent 2 weeks panhandling and collecting data about it. It was an interesting read. However, I think he has a lot of blind spots.

He claimed he could get very accurate numbers about gender, but it's not like he asked anybody their gender, so he was just guessing. More oddly, he thought he could accurately guess people's race. Any surprise he didn't list anyone as mixed race? Cuz, he guessed!

He does acknowledge, a little, that his gender and his status as a vet (that he used by putting
Austin Storm
Very nice, answers its single question well and with style. Maybe even too much style, but when you're writing an economic case study better to err on that side. I think ultimately sociological studies may prove more interesting than economic ones in this area.

I've only known one former panhandler, and he averaged quite a bit higher than the author. The reasons for his continued panhandling were how challenging it was to find a job, and how much more profitable panhandling was. Similar reasons,
Nov 27, 2016 rated it it was ok
SPOILER at the end.

Somewhat interesting but I do have some concerns with the the ethics of this study. The author posed as a needy Iraq vet seeking handouts at a highway off-ramp. In doing so, not only did he deceive the givers but also denied a possibly needy person of the opportunity to do the same at that location (this also denies a scammer to chance to take money inappropriately, depending on the distribution of truly needy to scammers). What did we gain from this deception - a narrow band
Feb 10, 2014 rated it it was ok
While I like the idea of this book (posing as a panhandler to see how profitable the practice actually is), I think it would have made a better socioeconomic research whitepaper. The chronology of the day-to-day interactions were kinda dull (except for the marine that was going to punch him in the face if he didn't back up his veteran-branded cardboard sign with some actual military bona fides).

The author concludes that panhandling is more profitable than minimum wage employment. He goes on to
Janna Thorsen
Jul 23, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A short read and it is very interesting. It answered some questions that I has always wondered about. However, it raised more questions that I would love to have answers to as well. Worth reading. I love that it is based on an exit ramp that I have actually driven past several times.
Rebecca W
Oct 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
I really like any story about somebody doing something that would make me too uncomfortable to do myself; liked how this 'study' found an answer to a common question.
Dec 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Jacob O'connor
Nov 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
This was very short but very good. His sample was too small to draw too firm a conclusion, but it was fun to think about.
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“From the start, the premise of this experiment was to treat panhandling like a job and compare it against a real job paying at least minimum wage. Can a panhandler earn more than minimum wage? The answer, from my 80 hours of experience, is a resounding yes! At the end of my twelve days, I had earned an average of $11.10 an hour.” 0 likes
“The number of donations given by each category was surprisingly close. 53% of all monetary donations came from males, and 47% came from females.” 0 likes
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