There are almost as many reasons for homelessness as here are homeless. But for those who end up on the street because they opt out of the economic grinder Dr Susan Oatley has bad news: the rules of economics apply here too.

Associate Professor Oatley is an urban sociologist. She has done extensive work with the homeless in and around Sydney.

The amount a homeless person can expect to get daily from begging is contingent upon the volume of traffic passing them by. Therefore, real estate is as important to the homeless as it is to any shop or vendor.

Speaking to the Sunday Telegraph, Ken Johnson, a homeless man in Sydney, admitted that six years ago he earned $50,000 a year by begging at the corner of George and Market Streets – an intersection with one of the city’s highest volume of foot traffic.

These days, depending on thy day, he can earn between $75 and $400.

“I’d be really disappointed if I did a long Friday and I only ha $250,” he said in an interview with the Sunday Telegraph.

Dr Oatley says that for people who have drug or alcohol problems the best options are high-volume street corners.

But not all homeless are capable of making such rational choices.

Some homeless refuse to beg despite their dire circumstances, some are so damaged they are incapable of identifying their best strategies, while others just get run-off when they try to situate themselves in another’s area.

Just like in the real world, those in the good spots earn the lion’s share of the money. Earnings fall sharply the further away from these areas you get.

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