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Miserable Migrants? Natural Experiment Evidence on International Migration and Objective and Subjective Well-Being

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  • Stillman, Steven
  • Gibson, John
  • McKenzie, David
  • Rohorua, Halahingano

Abstract

We compare successful and unsuccessful applicants to a migration lottery in order to examine the impact of migration on objective and subjective well-being. The results show that international migration brings large improvements in objective well-being. Impacts on subjective well-being are complex, with mental health improving but happiness declining, self-rated welfare rising if viewed retrospectively but static if viewed experimentally, self-rated social respect rising retrospectively but falling experimentally and subjective income adequacy rising. We further show that these changes would not be predicted from cross-sectional regressions on the correlates of subjective well-being in either Tonga or New Zealand.

Suggested Citation

  • Stillman, Steven & Gibson, John & McKenzie, David & Rohorua, Halahingano, 2015. "Miserable Migrants? Natural Experiment Evidence on International Migration and Objective and Subjective Well-Being," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 65(C), pages 79-93.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:wdevel:v:65:y:2015:i:c:p:79-93
    DOI: 10.1016/j.worlddev.2013.07.003
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Gatina, Liliya, 2016. "Does money buy happiness? Financial and general well-being of immigrants in Australia," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 63(C), pages 91-105.
    2. Michael A. Clemens & Hannah Postel, 2017. "Temporary work visas as US-Haiti development cooperation: a preliminary impact evaluation," IZA Journal of Labor & Development, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 6(1), pages 1-18, December.
    3. Nikolova, Milena & Roman, Monica & Zimmermann, Klaus F., 2017. "Left behind but doing good? Civic engagement in two post-socialist countries," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(3), pages 658-684.
    4. Clemens, Michael & Pritchett, Lant, 2016. "The New Case for Migration Restrictions: An Assessment," Working Paper Series rwp16-054, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
    5. repec:uwp:jhriss:v:52:y:2017:i:2:p:351-373 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Nikolova, Milena & Graham, Carol, 2015. "In transit: The well-being of migrants from transition and post-transition countries," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 112(C), pages 164-186.
    7. Zsóka Kóczán, 2016. "(Why) are immigrants unhappy?," IZA Journal of Migration, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 5(1), pages 1-25, December.
    8. Alpaslan Akay & Olivier Bargain & Klaus F. Zimmermann, 2017. "Home Sweet Home?: Macroeconomic Conditions in Home Countries and the Well-Being of Migrants," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 52(2), pages 351-373.
    9. Falco, Chiara & Rotondi, Valentina, 2016. "The Less Extreme, the More You Leave: Radical Islam and Willingness to Migrate," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 88(C), pages 122-133.
    10. Gibson,John & Mckenzie,David J. & Rohorua,Halahingano & Stillman,Steven, 2015. "The long-term impacts of international migration : evidence from a lottery," Policy Research Working Paper Series 7495, The World Bank.
    11. Koczan, Zs, 2013. "Does integration increase life satisfaction," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 1314, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
    12. Cifuentes, Myriam Patricia & Doogan, Nathan J. & Fernandez, Soledad A. & Seiber, Eric E., 2016. "Factors shaping Americans’ objective well-being: A systems science approach with network analysis," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 38(6), pages 1018-1039.
    13. Artjoms Ivlevs, 2015. "Happy Moves? Assessing the Link between Life Satisfaction and Emigration Intentions," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 68(3), pages 335-356, August.
    14. Kountouris, Yiannis & Remoundou, Kyriaki, 2013. "Is there a cultural component in tax morale? Evidence from immigrants in Europe," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 96(C), pages 104-119.
    15. Ivlevs, Artjoms, 2015. "Happy Moves? Assessing the Link Between Life Satisfaction and Emigration Intentions," IZA Discussion Papers 9017, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    16. John F. Helliwell & Aneta Bonikowska & Hugh Shiplett, 2016. "Migration as a Test of the Happiness Set Point Hypothesis: Evidence from Immigration to Canada," NBER Working Papers 22601, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    17. Artjoms Ivlevs, 2014. "Happiness and the emigration decision," IZA World of Labor, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA), pages 1-96, October.
    18. Senik, Claudia, 2014. "The French unhappiness puzzle: The cultural dimension of happiness," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 106(C), pages 379-401.
    19. David Bartram, 2015. "Inverting the Logic of Economic Migration: Happiness Among Migrants Moving from Wealthier to Poorer Countries in Europe," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 16(5), pages 1211-1230, October.
    20. Hirvonen, Kalle & Lilleør, Helene Bie, 2015. "Going Back Home: Internal Return Migration in Rural Tanzania," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 70(C), pages 186-202.
    21. Clemens, Michael A. & Özden, Çağlar & Rapoport, Hillel, 2015. "Reprint of: Migration and Development Research is Moving Far Beyond Remittances," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 65(C), pages 1-5.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    immigration; lottery; natural experiment; subjective well-being; Tonga; Pacific Islands;

    JEL classification:

    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers

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