A beggar carrying an infant taps on your window at a traffic light and asks for money, gesturing to the baby and to her mouth indicating that she and the child are hungry. What should you do?
On a recent visit to Mumbai, Paris Hilton faced a similar predicament. Ms. Hilton, socialite and hotel heiress, responded by giving a generous gift of a hundred dollar bill to the begging woman.
The woman, confused by the strange looking currency note, approached her brother-in-law for help. He quickly realized that this was a lot of money. Squabbling over the spoils among family members ensued, and her brother-in-law in a fit of rage tore up the note, much to the chagrin of Ms. Hilton, who later tweeted that she would gladly give more money to the beggar in her “own currency.”
Rupa Subramanya Dehejia on the economics of begging In Wall Street Journal Blogs. Here