January, 2022

Hobo Economicus

  • Peter Leeson

    Senior Fellow, F. A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics
  • R. August Hardy

  • Paola A Suarez

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The central implication of maximising behaviour amid competition is that rates of return tend toward equality. We test that implication in a market whose participants have the traits that behavioural economics suggests should make it hardest to find evidence of maximisation: the market for panhandling at Metrorail stations in Washington, District of Columbia. We find that stations with more panhandling opportunities attract more panhandlers and that cross-station differences in hourly panhandling receipts are statistically indistinguishable from zero. Panhandling rates of return thus tend toward equality. Extreme ‘behavioural’ traits do not prevent maximisation in this market.