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Does Money Buy Immigrant Happiness?

Author

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  • Rocío Calvo

    (Boston College School of Social Work)

  • Felix Cheung

    (Washington University in St. Louis)

Abstract

The relationship between income and happiness for international immigrants has been relatively unexplored. A handful of cross-sectional studies has shown that income and happiness are positively correlated after migration, and that wealthier immigrants are more satisfied with their post-migration lives than are their less privileged peers. What is unclear is if the link between income and happiness remains positive as immigrants assimilate to life in a new country. This question is the focus of our study. Using longitudinal data from over 10,000 immigrants tracked up to 30 years in the German Socio-Economic Panel Survey, we set out to provide some insight into the long-term relationship between immigrants’ self-reported life satisfaction and the level of their income in its absolute form. Longitudinal analyses revealed that immigrants who experienced increases in income over time reported greater satisfaction with life and that the income-happiness link remained relatively stable over time. The effect of absolute income on immigrants’ happiness was, nevertheless, small. We also observed that country of origin played an important role in the post-migration association between income and happiness. Income was a stronger predictor of the life satisfaction of immigrants from poorer origins than it was for their wealthier counterparts.

Suggested Citation

  • Rocío Calvo & Felix Cheung, 2018. "Does Money Buy Immigrant Happiness?," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 19(6), pages 1657-1672, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:jhappi:v:19:y:2018:i:6:d:10.1007_s10902-017-9889-3
    DOI: 10.1007/s10902-017-9889-3
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    Cited by:

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    2. M. Hendriks & M. J. Burger, 2020. "Unsuccessful Subjective Well-Being Assimilation Among Immigrants: The Role of Faltering Perceptions of the Host Society," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 21(6), pages 1985-2006, August.
    3. Manuela Stranges & Daniele Vignoli & Alessandra Venturini, 2019. "“Comparison is the thief of joy”. Does social comparison affect migrants’ subjective well-being?," Discussion Papers 53, Central European Labour Studies Institute (CELSI).
    4. Manuela Stranges & Daniele Vignoli & Alessandra Venturini, 2019. ""Comparison is the thief of joy". Does social comparison affect migrants’ subjective well-being?," Econometrics Working Papers Archive 2019_03, Universita' degli Studi di Firenze, Dipartimento di Statistica, Informatica, Applicazioni "G. Parenti".
    5. Kerstin Mitterbacher, 2021. "Motives for economic migration: a review," Working Paper Series, Social and Economic Sciences 2021-07, Faculty of Social and Economic Sciences, Karl-Franzens-University Graz.

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