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Immigrant Intentions and Mobility in a Global Economy: The Attitudes and Behavior of Recently Arrived U.S. Immigrants

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  • Douglas S. Massey
  • Ilana Redstone Akresh

Abstract

Objectives. In this article we develop a conceptual model connecting immigrants' objective circumstances to satisfaction with life in the United States, intentions with regard to naturalization and settlement, and concrete behaviors such as remitting and leaving the country. Methods. We analyze data from the New Immigrant Survey Pilot to estimate structural equations derived from our conceptual model. Results. Those expressing a high degree of U.S. satisfaction are significantly more likely to intend to naturalize and, because of this fact, are also more likely to want to stay in the United States forever. In terms of socioeconomic characteristics, however, those with high earnings and owners of U.S. property are less likely to intend naturalizing; and those with high levels of education are least likely to be satisfied with the United States, but satisfaction is itself unrelated to remitting or emigrating, which are determined by citizenship intentions and objective circumstances. Conclusions. The picture that emerges from this analysis is of a fluid and dynamic global market for human capital in which the bearers of skills, education, and abilities seek to maximize earnings in the short term while retaining little commitment to any particular society or national labor market over the longer term.

Suggested Citation

  • Douglas S. Massey & Ilana Redstone Akresh, 2006. "Immigrant Intentions and Mobility in a Global Economy: The Attitudes and Behavior of Recently Arrived U.S. Immigrants," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 87(5), pages 954-971, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:socsci:v:87:y:2006:i:5:p:954-971
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    File URL: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-6237.2006.00410.x
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Borjas, George J & Bratsberg, Bernt, 1996. "Who Leaves? The Outmigration of the Foreign-Born," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 78(1), pages 165-176, February.
    2. Hatton, Timothy J. & Williamson, Jeffrey G., 1998. "The Age of Mass Migration: Causes and Economic Impact," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195116519.
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    Cited by:

    1. Karin Amit & Shirly Bar-Lev, 2015. "Immigrants’ Sense of Belonging to the Host Country: The Role of Life Satisfaction, Language Proficiency, and Religious Motives," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 124(3), pages 947-961, December.
    2. repec:spr:ariqol:v:14:y:2019:i:2:d:10.1007_s11482-018-9624-1 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Karin Amit & Howard Litwin, 2010. "The Subjective Well-Being of Immigrants Aged 50 and Older in Israel," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 98(1), pages 89-104, August.
    4. Isilda Mara & Michael Landesmann, 2013. "Do I stay because I am happy or am I happy because I stay? Life satisfaction in migration, and the decision to stay permanently, return and out-migrate," Norface Discussion Paper Series 2013008, Norface Research Programme on Migration, Department of Economics, University College London.
    5. Analia Olgiati & Rocio Calvo & Lisa Berkman, 2013. "Are Migrants Going Up a Blind Alley? Economic Migration and Life Satisfaction around the World: Cross-National Evidence from Europe, North America and Australia," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 114(2), pages 383-404, November.
    6. Karin Amit & Ilan Riss, 2014. "The Subjective Well-Being of Immigrants: Pre- and Post-migration," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 119(1), pages 247-264, October.
    7. Kristyn Frank & Feng Hou & Grant Schellenberg, 2016. "Life Satisfaction Among Recent Immigrants in Canada: Comparisons to Source-Country and Host-Country Populations," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 17(4), pages 1659-1680, August.
    8. Thomas, Rebecca L. & Chiarelli-Helminiak, Christina M. & Ferraj, Brunilda & Barrette, Kyle, 2016. "Building relationships and facilitating immigrant community integration: An evaluation of a Cultural Navigator Program," Evaluation and Program Planning, Elsevier, vol. 55(C), pages 77-84.
    9. Karin Amit, 2010. "Determinants of Life Satisfaction Among Immigrants from Western Countries and from the FSU in Israel," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 96(3), pages 515-534, May.

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