More Tourism, More Crime: Evidence from Croatia


For all its benefits, mainly through contributing to economic growth, tourism can cause certain negative externalities, increased crime incidence being one of them. More crime leads to immediate costs to residents, tourists and the host country, but can also imperil the destination’s image and fend off tourists in the future. We study the impact of tourism on crime in Croatia by estimating the elasticity of property crime with respect to tourist arrivals on monthly panel data at the county level over the period 1998–2016. We find robust evidence that tourism increases property crime. The elasticity varies spatially and by type of property crime, being higher in coastal than in continental counties, and higher for theft than for larceny. The estimates are used for counter-factual calculations which show that, had tourism been the only factor affecting property crime, the number of crimes would have evolved over 2006–2016 to a much higher level than it actually has. The elasticities are large enough that, absent sufficiently strong countervailing factors, even a moderately paced tourism growth can bring a sizeable increase in property crime over a decade. From the policy perspective, it is important to understand the countervailing factors and to consider the costs of tourism-induced crime in social cost-benefit assessments of tourism growth.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3


  1. 1.

    Figure S1, panel a, in Supplementary Material displays a map of Croatia and the neighbouring countries.

  2. 2.

    In references, the titles of media articles are translated from Croatian by the authors.

  3. 3.

    Figure S1, panel b, in Supplementary Material displays a map of Croatia with county borders. It is also indicated which counties are coastal and which are continental.

  4. 4.

    For details, see Croatian Criminal Act, Articles 229–231.

  5. 5.

    Hereafter, we will use just ‘average’ to mean ‘average compound’.

  6. 6.

    Note also that it can be interpreted as the effect of the number of tourist arrivals per square kilometre on the number of crimes per square kilometre of the county surface area, owing to the fact that we control for county fixed effects.

  7. 7.

    In all tables with regression results, the coefficient estimates are displayed with four decimals, but in text we round them to two decimals. We do so throughout the whole text.

  8. 8.

    Recall that Zagreb comprises two counties, namely the City of Zagreb and County of Zagreb.

  9. 9.

    Full results are provided in Table S1 in Supplementary Material.

  10. 10.

    Full results are provided in Table S1 in Supplementary Material.

  11. 11.

    With one exception, where one of the controls is appropriately redefined (see next paragraph).

  12. 12.

    Full results are provided in Table S2 in Supplementary Material.

  13. 13.

    Full results are provided in Table S3 in Supplementary Material.

  14. 14.

    It might be that for theft the clear-up rate better measures deterrence, though it is admittedly hard to know what might be the reasons for that.

  15. 15.

    Note that it would not make a substantial difference if it were included as the share of the unemployed in population instead, given that we control for population (as previously discussed in the cases crime vs. crime per 100,000 inhabitants and tourist arrivals vs. tourist arrivals per 100,000 population). Unfortunately, there are no monthly data on the number of active population at the county level, so we are not able to control for the unemployment rate.

  16. 16.

    Full results are provided in Table S4 in Supplementary Material.

  17. 17.

    Here ’full sample’ refers to the sample covering all counties and all months for which the number of unemployed persons at the county level is available, namely from January 2004 to December 2016.

  18. 18.

    Full results are provided in Table S5 in Supplementary Material.

  19. 19.

    Unemployment is regularly at its lowest point over a year during the summer months, when the tourist season is peaking. In addition, besides tourism, other important sectors, most notably construction, employ more during summer months, though more so outside the areas with most tourists.

  20. 20.

    We have also tried controlling for (the natural logarithm of) gross domestic product, on which we have only annual, rather than monthly, county-level data. These data are not available for 1998 and 1999. The results—available on request—show that the coefficient on ln(GDP) is never statistically significant and the crime elasticity estimate hardly changes.

  21. 21.

    The evolution of tourist arrivals was depicted in Fig. 1.


  1. Adam, I., & Adongo, C. A. (2016). Do backpackers suffer crime? Empirical investigation of crime perpetrated against backpackers in Ghana. Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Management, 27, 60–67.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Alleyne, D., & Boxill, I. (2003). The impact of crime on tourist arrivals in Jamaica. International Journal of Tourism Research, 5(5), 381–391.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Altindag, D. T. (2012). Crime and unemployment: Evidence from Europe. International Review of Law and Economics, 32(1), 145–157.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Andresen, M. A., & Malleson, N. (2013). Crime seasonality and its variations across space. Applied Geography, 43, 25–35.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Barker, M., Page, S., & Meyer, D. (2002). Modeling tourism crime: The 2000 America’s cup. Annals of Tourism Research, 29(3), 762–782.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Baumer, E., & Wright, R. (1996). Crime seasonality and serious scholarship: A comment on farrell and pease. The British Journal of Criminology, 36, 579.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Becker, G. S. (1968). Crime and punishment: An economic approach. In N. G. Fielding, A. Clarke, & R. Witt (Eds.), The economic dimensions of crime (pp. 13–68). Berlin: Springer.

    Google Scholar 

  8. Biagi, B., & Detotto, C. (2014). Crime as tourism externality. Regional Studies, 48(4), 693–709.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Biagi, B., Brandano, M., & Detotto, C. (2012). The effect of tourism on crime in Italy: A dynamic panel approach. Economics: The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal, 6(25), 1–24.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Bimonte, S., Brida, J. G., Pulina, M., & Punzo, L. F. (2012). Tourism and growth: Stories of two continents. In L. F. Punzo, C. A. Feijo, & M. P. Anyul (Eds.), Beyond the global crisis: Structural adjustments and regional integration in Europe and latin America (pp. 252–268). London: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  11. Bindler, A. (2016). Still unemployed, what next? Crime and unemployment duration. In GUPEA working papers in economics no. 660.

  12. Block, C. R. (1984). Is crime seasonal? In Illinois criminal justice information authority Chicago. Chicago: Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority. Accessed 16 July 2019.

  13. Buonanno, P. (2006). Crime and labour market opportunities in Italy (1993–2002). Labour, 20(4), 601–624.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Campaniello, N. (2013). Mega events in sports and crime: Evidence from the 1990 football world cup. Journal of Sports Economics, 14(2), 148–170.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Cheatwood, D. (1988). Is there a season for homicide? Criminology, 26(2), 287–306.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Chesney-Lind, M., & Lind, I. Y. (1986). Visitors as victims crimes against tourists in Hawaii. Annals of Tourism Research, 13(2), 167–191.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Chesney-Lind, M., Lind, I. Y., & Schaafsma, H. (1983). Salient factors in Hawaii’s crime rate. Manoa: University of Hawaii.

    Google Scholar 

  18. Cohen, L. E., & Felson, M. (1979). Social change and crime rate trends: A routine activity approach. American Sociological Review, 44(4), 588–608.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Crotts, J. C. (1996). Theoretical perspectives on tourist criminal victimisation. Journal of Tourism Studies, 7(1), 2.

    Google Scholar 

  20. Dimanche, F., & Lepetic, A. (1999). New Orleans tourism and crime: A case study. Journal of Travel Research, 38(1), 19–23.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Ehrlich, I. (1973). Participation in illegitimate activities: A theoretical and empirical investigation. The Journal of Political Economy, 81(3), 521–565.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Falk, G. J. (1952). The influence of the seasons on the crime rate. The Journal of Criminal Law, Criminology, and Police Science, 43(2), 199–213.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Fujii, E. T., & Mak, J. (1979). The impact of alternative regional development strategies on crime rates: Tourism vs. agriculture in Hawaii. The Annals of Regional Science, 13(3), 42–56.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Fujii, E. T., & Mak, J. (1980). Tourism and crime: Implications for regional development policy. Regional Studies, 14(1), 27–36.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Ghali, M., Estores, E., Okano, F., & Tanaka, R. (1983). Economic factors and the composition of juvenile property crimes. Applied Economics, 15(2), 267–281.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Grinols, E. L., Mustard, D. B., & Staha, M. (2011). How do visitors affect crime? Journal of Quantitative Criminology, 27(3), 363–378.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Ivandić, N., & Šutalo, I. (2018). The contribution of tourism to the Croatian economy: An IO approach. Ekonomski Pregled, 69(1), 20–42.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Jud, G. D. (1975). Tourism and crime in Mexico. Social Science Quarterly, 56(2), 324–330.

    Google Scholar 

  29. Jutarnji List (2017). Croatian tourist boom: The coast is overcrowded, and two towns are recorders! Accessed 10 Oct 2018.

  30. Levantis, T., & Gani, A. (2000). Tourism demand and the nuisance of crime. International Journal of Social Economics, 27(7/8/9/10), 959–967.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Lider, H. (2017). Plitvice lakes are under risk of long-term devastation due to overbuilding. Accessed 10 Oct 2018.

  32. Linning, S. J., Andresen, M. A., & Brantingham, P. J. (2017). Crime seasonality: Examining the temporal fluctuations of property crime in cities with varying climates. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 61(16), 1866–1891.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Lombroso, C. (1912). Crime, its causes and remedies. Boston: Little Brown.

    Google Scholar 

  34. McPheters, L. R., & Stronge, W. B. (1974). Crime as an environmental externality of tourism: Miami, Florida. Land Economics, 50(3), 288–292.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Montolio, D., & Planells-Struse, S. (2016). Does tourism boost criminal activity? Evidence from a top touristic country. Crime & Delinquency, 62(12), 1597–1623.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Mummolo, J., & Peterson, E. (2018). Improving the interpretation of fixed effects regression results. Political Science Research and Methods, 6, 1–7.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. Novi List (2017). Frequent theft: Beaches are el dorado for thiefs. Accessed 10 Oct 2018.

  38. O’Donnell, C. R., & Lydgate, T. (1980). The relationship to crimes of physical resources. Environment and Behavior, 12(2), 207–230.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  39. Quetelet, L. A. J. (1842). A treatise on man and the development of his faculties. Edinburgh: W. and R. Chambers.

    Google Scholar 

  40. Ryan, C. (1993). Crime, violence, terrorism and tourism: An accidental or intrinsic relationship? Tourism Management, 14(3), 173–183.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  41. Schubert, S. F. (2010). Coping with externalities in tourism: A dynamic optimal taxation approach. Tourism Economics, 16(2), 321–343.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  42. UNWTO (2017). Why tourism? Accessed 23 Aug 2018.

  43. Van Tran, X., & Bridges, F. S. (2009). Tourism and crime in European nations. E-Review of Tourism Research, 7(3), 52–67.

    Google Scholar 

  44. Walmsley, D. J., Boskovic, R. M., & Pigram, J. J. (1983). Tourism and crime: An Australian perspective. Journal of Leisure Research, 15(2), 136.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references


Funding was provided by TvojGrant@EIZ.

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Vedran Recher.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Electronic supplementary material

Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.

Supplementary material 1 (pdf 87 KB)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Recher, V., Rubil, I. More Tourism, More Crime: Evidence from Croatia. Soc Indic Res 147, 651–675 (2020).

Download citation


  • Tourism
  • Property crime
  • Larceny
  • Theft
  • Panel data
  • Fixed-effects