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Does Migration Make You Happy? A Longitudinal Study of Internal Migration and Subjective Well-Being

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  • Beata Nowok

    (ESRC Centre for Population Change, Department of Geography and Sustainable Development, University of St Andrews, Irvine Building, North Street, St Andrews KY16 9AL, Scotland)

  • Maarten van Ham

    (OTB Research Institute for the Built Environment, Delft University of Technology, PO Box 5030, 2600 GA Delft, The Netherlands and University of St Andrews, Scotland and IZA Bonn, Germany)

  • Allan M Findlay

    (ESRC Centre for Population Change, Department of Geography and Sustainable Development, University of St Andrews, Irvine Building, North Street, St Andrews KY16 9AL, Scotland)

  • Vernon Gayle

    (ESRC Centre for Population Change, School of Social and Political Science, University of Edinburgh, Chrystal Macmillan Building, 15a George Square, Edinburgh EH8 9LD, Scotland)

Abstract

The majority of quantitative studies on the consequences of internal migration focus almost exclusively on the labour-market outcomes and the material well-being of migrants. We investigate whether individuals who migrate within the UK become happier after the move than they were before, and whether the effect is permanent or transient. Using life-satisfaction responses from twelve waves of the British Household Panel Survey and employing a fixed-effects model, we derive a temporal pattern of migrants' subjective well-being around the time of the migration event. Our findings make an original contribution by revealing that, on average, migration is preceded by a period when individuals experience a significant decline in happiness for a variety of reasons, including changes in personal living arrangements. Migration itself causes a boost in happiness, and brings people back to their initial levels. The research contributes, therefore, to advancing an understanding of migration in relation to set-point theory. Perhaps surprisingly, long-distance migrants are at least as happy as short-distance migrants despite the higher social and psychological costs involved. The findings of this paper add to the pressure to retheorize migration within a conceptual framework that accounts for social well-being from a life-course perspective.

Suggested Citation

  • Beata Nowok & Maarten van Ham & Allan M Findlay & Vernon Gayle, 2013. "Does Migration Make You Happy? A Longitudinal Study of Internal Migration and Subjective Well-Being," Environment and Planning A, , vol. 45(4), pages 986-1002, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:envira:v:45:y:2013:i:4:p:986-1002
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Artjoms Ivlevs, 2014. "Happiness and the emigration decision," IZA World of Labor, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA), pages 1-96, October.
    2. Malgorzata Switek, 2016. "Internal Migration and Life Satisfaction: Well-Being Paths of Young Adult Migrants," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 125(1), pages 191-241, January.
    3. Andrew E. Clark, 2015. "Adaptation and the Easterlin Paradox," PSE - Labex "OSE-Ouvrir la Science Economique" halshs-01112725, HAL.
    4. Artjoms Ivlevs, 2014. "Happy moves? Assessing the impact of subjective well-being on the emigration decision," Working Papers 20141402, Department of Accounting, Economics and Finance, Bristol Business School, University of the West of England, Bristol.
    5. Angela Faßhauer & Katrin Rehdanz, 2015. "Estimating Benefits from Regional Amenities: Internal Migration and Life Satisfaction," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 748, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    6. Danzer, Alexander M. & Dietz, Barbara & Gatskova, Ksenia & Schmillen, Achim, 2014. "Showing off to the new neighbors? Income, socioeconomic status and consumption patterns of internal migrants," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 230-245.
    7. Coulter, Rory & van Ham, Maarten & Findlay, Allan M., 2013. "New Directions for Residential Mobility Research: Linking Lives through Time and Space," IZA Discussion Papers 7525, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    8. Graif, Corina & Arcaya, Mariana C. & Diez Roux, Ana V., 2016. "Moving to opportunity and mental health: Exploring the spatial context of neighborhood effects," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 162(C), pages 50-58.
    9. Kopmann, Angela & Rehdanz, Katrin, 2014. "Underestimated Benefits from Periphery: Internal Migration and Subjective Well-being," Annual Conference 2014 (Hamburg): Evidence-based Economic Policy 100382, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
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    11. Philip S. Morrison & William A.V. Clark, 2016. "Loss aversion and duration of residence," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 35(36), pages 1079-1100, October.
    12. Malgorzata Switek, 2016. "Internal Migration and Life Satisfaction: Well-Being Paths of Young Adult Migrants," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 125(1), pages 191-241, January.
    13. 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.
    14. 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).
    15. Tunstall, Helena & Mitchell, Richard & Pearce, Jamie & Shortt, Niamh, 2014. "The general and mental health of movers to more- and less-disadvantaged socio-economic and physical environments within the UK," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 118(C), pages 97-107.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    internal migration; subjective well-being; happiness; panel model; set-point theory;

    JEL classification:

    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers
    • R23 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Regional Migration; Regional Labor Markets; Population

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