White beggars in South Africa earn between R50 and R500 a day, the trade union Solidarity said on Tuesday.
A study conducted by Solidarity's Helping Hand revealed that most beggars would like to work, but do not have the necessary education.
About 78 percent of beggars interviewed said they would like to work and 19 percent said they had not worked before.
The study conducted in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and Western Cape was of perceptions and the reality of the lives of beggars.
Field workers interviewed beggars in November and December 2012.
Solidarity researcher Nicolien Welthagen said public comments on the union's Facebook page showed that people believed beggars did not want to work.
"Many people wrote that they had offered beggars work, but that they had not wanted to do demeaning work," said Welthagen.
"Furthermore, one or two of the beggars who did accept work had quit almost immediately, sometimes within a few days, and had started begging again."
Almost 60 percent of the beggars had not passed matric.
A small group of 6.6 percent claimed they possessed a diploma and 13 percent said they had some form of a certificate.
Most of the beggars (57 percent) indicated that they were not married. A third (31 percent) were married and 12 percent were divorced. There were also couples (33 percent) who begged together even though they were not married.
Most beggars (83 percent) did not receive an allowance or any assistance from welfare or other organisations.
Sixty-three percent belonged to a church.
About half (51 percent) said they did not have any children, while a third (32 percent) had one child.
Only four percent received a children's allowance and 94 percent of female beggars with children did not receive any allowance.
Most of the beggars indicated they had been begging for less than a year, while approximately 12 percent had been begging for more than 10 years.
Welthagen said the public believed that beggars were not interested in the work offered to them "because they can earn much more on the streets".
The research was not intended to provide final answers or solutions to the issue of beggars, but to create more questions which could lead to further research, said Welthagen.