Beggars make over 10 grand a month on the Shanghai subway

A mother and daughter begs on the Shanghai subway
A mother and daughter begs on the Shanghai subway

Every city has its beggars, but how many beggars can claim to make over 10 grand a month?

According to Shanghai Newscast, not only do professional beggars continue to beg regardless of frequent arrests, the beggars in the Shanghai subway system make more money than the patrolling police officers and boasts of it as they are chased off the subway.

Summer is the peak season for begging.  My guess is that summer vacation is when easy targets like tourists and overseas Chinese students like me flock to Shanghai.  The summers in Shanghai are unbearably hot, but the subways are air conditioned and quite comfortable.  That and the incredible volume of people that pass through each day makes the subways an ideal place for beggars.

Everyday, law enforcement officers now constantly patrol the stations and subway cars.  Yet dozens of beggars can still be found. When a police officer stepped in to prevent forceful begging behavior, a disgruntled beggar retaliated by proclaiming:

Look at you slaving away everyday just to make that little bit of money, you still want to control me?  You know how much I got to day? 670RMB!

The police are actually not surprised by this response.

They come and beg for 3 or 4 hours a day and can make about a hundred or so bucks.  On the upper end some beggars can even make a few hundred bucks a day, while recently a begging mother and child received 100 US dollars, making them legendary in the begging community.

The average income in Shanghai (one of the most expensive cities in China) is 3,896 RMB (US$594).  So assuming 20 work days a month, the average income for an honest worker working 9hrs a day is about 195 RMB a day.  If beggars can make 2 or 3 times that working only 3 hours a day, no wonder there’s a professional community of beggars plaguing the Shanghai subways!

Where do these beggars come from?  Police investigations uncover surprising results.