Ever been to DC? Then you might have been surprised by the large number of homeless people. In particular, you may have noticed a group of homeless people living in the small park in front of the World Bank. It is somewhat ironic that the largest poverty-fighting institution in the world faces severe poverty on its own doorsteps. Everybody at the Bank or the Fund knows them, seeing them on the way to work (or from their windows) every day. I am wondering whether the Bank has ever tried to do something to help them, e.g. via initiatives such as “Pimp this Bum”. I am also wondering why there is barely any research on homeless people in the US or Europe, while there are tons of papers on poverty in Africa or Asia.
Why travel thousands of miles to conduct yet another wildly expensive field survey in Uganda or Indonesia, while so much remains to be understood about the most disenfranchised segments of our own societies? Put differently: Why not conduct randomized field experiments with the bums on Pennsylvania Avenue, instead of doing the 50th one in Kigali?
P.S. I have just found a small economic literature on homelessness (e.g. here), although none of it seems to be based on such detailed data as available to development researchers.