Buddy, can you spare a dime?
In the Washington area, the answer is frequently yes. In fact, we often spare a dollar or more, according to a Washington Post survey of 436 randomly selected local residents.
Seven out of 10 respondents said they have given money to panhandlers. One in 4 said they had donated in the past month, while 14 percent said they had given in the past week.
Of those who had given, more than half -- 54 percent -- said they had donated a dollar or more the last time they contributed on the street. Six percent said they had given 75 cents, while 21 percent said they had given about 50 cents, and 12 percent said they had given a quarter. The remainder could not recall how much they had given.
Twelve of the 436 people surveyed between Dec. 10 and Dec. 12 said their last donation to a panhandler was at least $10. The maximum donation reported was $50, a surprisingly generous, but perhaps apocryphal, act of impromptu charity.
Residents of the District of Columbia, blacks, those with the least formal education and men appear to be most likely to give to panhandlers. For example, 45 percent of D.C. residents, 42 percent of blacks, 38 percent of those who did not attend college and 36 percent of men reported giving to a panhandler in the past month.
Figures are based on telephone interviews with adults in the District, the Maryland suburbs and Northern Virginia. The margin of sampling error for the overall results was plus or minus five percentage points.