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Happiness and International Migration

In this paper, we consider the extent to which the aggregate happiness of a country affects the flow of people across its borders. We merge data from the World Values Survey, which produces happiness indices for 84 countries between 1981 and 2004, with three different migration datasets. We find that happiness has a U-shaped relationship with emigration rates: emigration rates fall in happiness for relatively unhappy countries, but rise for relatively happy countries. The U-shaped relationship also holds for migrant flows into the U.S. When analyzing net migration rates, we find that the reverse relationship exists. Net migration is associated with an increase in happiness for relatively unhappy countries, but after a threshold level of happiness, net migration is associated with a decrease in happiness. Our findings are robust to various empirical specifications and datasets.

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File URL: http://commons.colgate.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1009&context=econ_facschol
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Paper provided by Department of Economics, Colgate University in its series Working Papers with number 2010-03.

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Date of creation: Sep 2010
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Handle: RePEc:cgt:wpaper:2010-03
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  1. Stevenson, Betsey & Wolfers, Justin, 2008. "Economic Growth and Subjective Well-Being: Reassessing the Easterlin Paradox," CEPR Discussion Papers 6944, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Alberto Alesina & Rafael Di Tella & Robert MacCulloch, 2001. "Inequality and Happiness: Are Europeans and Americans Different?," NBER Working Papers 8198, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  7. David Karemera & Victor Iwuagwu Oguledo & Bobby Davis, 2000. "A gravity model analysis of international migration to North America," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 32(13), pages 1745-1755.
  8. Stevenson, Betsey & Wolfers, Justin, 2009. "The Paradox of Declining Female Happiness," IZA Discussion Papers 4200, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  9. DiTella, Rafael & MacCulloch, Robert & Oswald, Andrew J., 1999. "The macroeconomics of happiness," ZEI Working Papers B 03-1999, University of Bonn, ZEI - Center for European Integration Studies.
  10. Vendrik, Maarten C.M. & Woltjer, Geert B., 2007. "Happiness and loss aversion: Is utility concave or convex in relative income?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(7-8), pages 1423-1448, August.
  11. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, . "What can Economists Learn from Happiness Research?," IEW - Working Papers 080, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  12. Oswald, A.J., 1997. "Happiness and Economic Performance," Papers 18, Centre for Economic Performance & Institute of Economics.
  13. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2000. "Happiness, Economy and Institutions," CESifo Working Paper Series 246, CESifo Group Munich.
  14. Kahneman, Daniel & Tversky, Amos, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(2), pages 263-91, March.
  15. Hatton, Timothy J. & Williamson, Jeffrey G, 2002. "What Fundamentals Drive World Migration?," CEPR Discussion Papers 3559, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  16. Blanchflower, David G. & Oswald, Andrew J., 2001. "Well-Being Over Time in Britain and the USA," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 616, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  17. Hatton, Timothy J. & Williamson, Jeffrey G., 1998. "The Age of Mass Migration: Causes and Economic Impact," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195116519, December.
  18. Anna Maria Mayda, 2007. "International migration: A panel data analysis of the determinants of bilateral flows," CReAM Discussion Paper Series 0707, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London.
  19. Richard Eckersley, 2000. "The Mixed Blessings of Material Progress: Diminishing Returns in the Pursuit of Happiness," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 1(3), pages 267-292, September.
  20. repec:ilo:ilowps:338944 is not listed on IDEAS
  21. Ek, Ellen & Koiranen, Markku & Raatikka, Veli-Pekka & Järvelin, Marjo-Riitta & Taanila, Anja, 2008. "Psychosocial factors as mediators between migration and subjective well-being among young Finnish adults," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 66(7), pages 1545-1556, April.
  22. Rafael Di Tella & Robert MacCulloch, 2006. "Some Uses of Happiness Data in Economics," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(1), pages 25-46, Winter.
  23. David G. Blanchflower & Andrew J. Oswald, 2004. "Money, Sex and Happiness: An Empirical Study," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 106(3), pages 393-415, October.
  24. Rotte, Ralph & Vogler, Michael, 1999. "The Effects of Development on Migration: Theoretical Issues and New Empirical Evidence," IZA Discussion Papers 46, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  25. Carol Graham, 2005. "Insights on Development from the Economics of Happiness," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 20(2), pages 201-231.
  26. Bruno Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2000. "Happiness Prospers in Democracy," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 79-102, March.
  27. Layard, Richard, 1980. "Human Satisfactions and Public Policy," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 90(363), pages 737-50, December.
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