Monday, October 19, 2009

Do people ask for money because they have none or because you have some?

Otherwise put, do people beg due to poverty or inequality?

I realized that this can be tested in a country like Lesotho where everyone tends to get paid on the same day of the month – the 25th here.

Over the weekend I was at a BBQ (or ‘braai’) and an ex-pat couple who have been here for several years told me that (different) people regularly come to their house and ask them for money towards the end of the month.

There must be two different types of people asking for money at the end of the month: those who ask before they have paid because they have run out of money and they need some to tide themselves over till pay day (poverty); and those who know that other people have just been paid and so take advantage and ask for money (inequality?).

With all the usual caveats (some people beg for one reason and some for another; some might do it for different reasons at different times; some might even do it for both reasons at the same time), it seems to me that it should be possible to `1/ test to see which motivation dominates in a given society at a given time; and 2/ profile the different types of people.

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