Spring Break is a rite of passage for many American college students, who, for one week each March, venture away from the hallowed grounds of their universities in the old-fashioned pursuit of fun. While Spring Breakers are sometimes derided for their occasional rowdiness, they are deserving of praise—at least when it comes to their economic impact.
That’s because the hoards of young people who descend upon various exotic locations each year spend a lot of money and, in their own way, can affect the local economies they choose to visit. This isn’t just an anecdotal observation, either. John Laurie, a graduate student at the University of New Orleans, based his dissertation on the argument.
In his report, “Spring Break: The Economic, Socio-Political, and Public Governance Impacts of College Students on Spring Break Host Locations,” Laurie notes that, depending on the location, entrepreneurship has grown in traditional Spring Break destinations over the past few decades. In Panama City, for instance, business growth “between 2001 and 2005 posted positive gains in every year, increasing from 634 to 779 total businesses.”
While many were undoubtedly affected by the recession, college students—especially in the post-recessionary period—continue to flock to warmer climates during their annual week away from the stress of everyday university life. Their economic impact cannot be downplayed, Laurie notes, with young people pumping some $1 billion each year into Texas and Florida’s economies alone.
Yet their net impact isn’t necessarily entirely positive for all the communities that they travel to. As The Atlantic notes, Spring Break has a marked effect on small businesses in local areas. It is not, however, a significant generator of tax revenue for counties. Indeed, “the only local industry that is clearly and consistently stimulated by spring break is law enforcement,” according to the news provider.
Though the economic impact might be somewhat mixed, economic data proves that Spring Breakers may not be entirely deserving of the vitriol that is occasionally tossed their way. These revelers definitely affect local economies, after all, and they might even provide a source of entertainment for year-round residents.