New study suggests migration does not bring happiness
August 31, 2010
The grass might not be greener on the other side of the border, a new study from the University of Leicester has found.
Dr Bartram said that the research might also serve to allay some media fears and people’s concerns about being “overrun” by immigrants: “The fact is, most people around the world do not want to move to a wealthy country like the UK: perhaps they understand that money is not the most important thing, that there would be a real price to pay in leaving one’s family and community.
“Perhaps the research could also help potential migrants, especially those who are attracted by wealthy-country income prospects, to develop a better understanding of what life as an immigrant in a wealthy country would really be like.”
Good news or bad news? Many people do not need this kind of “study” to figure this out. People who do need this information will or can not read it either. An opportunity outside of their countries provide them challenge and valuable experience. But what is happiness anyway?
But, looking at the paper, it does provide good insight.
Social Indicators Research
An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement
Economic Migration and Happiness: Comparing Immigrants’ and Natives’ Happiness Gains From Income
Research on happiness casts doubt on the notion that increases in income generally bring greater happiness. This finding can be taken to imply that economic migration might fail to result in increased happiness for the migrants: migration as a means of increasing one’s income might be no more effective in raising happiness than other means of increasing one’s income. This implication is counterintuitive: it suggests that migrants are mistaken in believing that economic migration is a path to improving one’s well-being, at least to the extent that well-being means (or includes) happiness. This paper considers a scenario in which it is less likely that migrants are simply mistaken in this regard. The finding that increased incomes do not lead to greater happiness is an average (non)effect—and migrants might be exceptional in this regard, gaining happiness from increased incomes to a greater extent than most people. The analysis here, using data from the World Values Survey, finds that the association between income and happiness is indeed stronger for immigrants in the USA than for natives—but even for immigrants that association is still relatively weak. The discussion then considers this finding in light of the fact that immigrants also report lower levels of happiness than natives after controlling for other variables.
In the end, it depends. I am not moving around primarily because of financial reasons, but because I can do more valuable work, and am also aware of the high cost of moving around — any one who lived abroad for long time knows. Uninformed would-be immigrants should read this, which I doubt they would.