Gaining all or part of one's living by asking for money or food, whether from door to door or in public places.


Begging occurs frequently, particularly in developing countries, where unemployment and shortage of food are problems. However, it is increasingly practised in major cities of the industrialized countries. Attempts to increase income may be made by deforming or mutilating the body. This may be done deliberately by the beggar or may be done by an adult, possibly the parent, dependent on the begging of children. In 1990 federal court decided for the first time that panhandling is a free-speech right protected by the First Amendment.


"The begging bowl of the Buddha, represents the ultimate theological root of the belief, not just in a right to beg, but in the openness to the gifts of all beings as an expression of the interdependence of all beings. The whole idea of compassion, which is central to Mahayana Buddhism, is based on an awareness of the interdependence of all living beings.... Thus when the monk begs from the layman it is not as a selfish person getting something from somebody else, he is simply opening himself to his interdependence" (Thomas Merton quoted in The Gift: Imagination and the Erotic Life of Property,  Lewis Hyde).

Society Disadvantaged
Type Classification:
G: Very Specific strategies
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 10: Reduced Inequality