IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

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

  • Steven Stillman

    ()

    (Department of Economics, University of Otago)

  • John Gibson

    ()

    (Department of Economics, University of Waikato)

  • David McKenzie

    ()

    (Development Research Group, World Bank)

  • Halahingano Rohorua

    ()

    (Department of Economics, University of Waikato)

Over 200 million people worldwide live outside their country of birth and typically experience large gains in material well-being by moving to where incomes are higher. But effects of migration on subjective well-being are less clear, with some studies suggesting that migrants are miserable in their new locations. Observational studies are potentially biased by the self-selection of migrants so a natural experiment is used to compare successful and unsuccessful applicants to a migration lottery in order to experimentally estimate the impact of migration on objective and subjective well-being. The results show that international migration brings large improvements in objective well-being, in terms of incomes and expenditures. 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. More broadly, our results highlight the difficulties of measuring changes in subjective well-being when reference frames change, as likely occurs with migration.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL: http://www.cream-migration.org/publ_uploads/CDP_28_12.pdf
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London in its series CReAM Discussion Paper Series with number 1228.

as
in new window

Length:
Date of creation: Sep 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:crm:wpaper:1228
Contact details of provider: Postal: Drayton House, 30 Gordon Street, London WC1H 0AX
Phone: +44 (0)20 7679 5888
Fax: +44 (0)20 7916 2775
Web page: http://www.cream-migration.org/

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Angus Deaton, 2009. "Instruments of development: Randomization in the tropics, and the search for the elusive keys to economic development," Working Papers 1128, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Health and Wellbeing..
  2. Clemens, Michael & Montenegro, Claudio & Pritchett, Lant, 2009. "The Place Premium: Wage Differences for Identical Workers across the US Border," Working Paper Series rwp09-004, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  3. John Gibson & Steven Stillman & David McKenzie & Halahingano Rohorua, 2013. "Natural Experiment Evidence On The Effect Of Migration On Blood Pressure And Hypertension," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 22(6), pages 655-672, 06.
  4. Akay, Alpaslan & Bargain, Olivier & Zimmermann, Klaus F., 2011. "Relative Concerns of Rural-to-Urban Migrants in China," IZA Discussion Papers 5480, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. David McKenzie & Steven Stillman & John Gibson, 2010. "How Important is Selection? Experimental VS. Non‐Experimental Measures of the Income Gains from Migration," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 8(4), pages 913-945, 06.
  6. Di Tella, Rafael & Haisken-De New, John & MacCulloch, Robert, 2010. "Happiness adaptation to income and to status in an individual panel," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 76(3), pages 834-852, December.
  7. Beegle, Kathleen & Himelein, Kristen & Ravallion, Martin, 2012. "Frame-of-reference bias in subjective welfare," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 81(2), pages 556-570.
  8. McKenzie, David & Gibson, John & Stillman, Steven, 2007. "A Land of Milk and Honey with Streets Paved with Gold: Do Emigrants Have Over-Optimistic Expectations about Incomes Abroad?," IZA Discussion Papers 2788, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  9. Angrist, Joshua, 2003. "Treatment Effect Heterogeneity in Theory and Practice," IZA Discussion Papers 851, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  10. David Bartram, 2011. "Economic Migration and Happiness: Comparing Immigrants’ and Natives’ Happiness Gains From Income," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 103(1), pages 57-76, August.
  11. Betsey Stevenson & Justin Wolfers, 2013. "Subjective Well-Being and Income: Is There Any Evidence of Satiation?," NBER Working Papers 18992, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. John Gibson & David McKenzie & Halahingano Rohorua, 2008. "How Pro-Poor is the Selection of Seasonal Migrant Workers from Tonga Under New Zealand's Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) Program?," CReAM Discussion Paper Series 0807, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London.
  13. Karin Amit & Howard Litwin, 2010. "The Subjective Well-Being of Immigrants Aged 50 and Older in Israel," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 98(1), pages 89-104, August.
  14. Ingrid Nielsen & Russell Smyth & Qingguo Zhai, 2010. "Subjective Well-Being of China’s Off-Farm Migrants," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 11(3), pages 315-333, June.
  15. Knight, John & Gunatilaka, Ramani, 2010. "Great Expectations? The Subjective Well-being of Rural-Urban Migrants in China," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 38(1), pages 113-124, January.
  16. John Knight & Ramani Gunatilaka, 2010. "The Rural-Urban Divide in China: Income but Not Happiness?," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 46(3), pages 506-534.
  17. Ozden, Caglar & Parsons, Christopher R. & Schiff, Maurice & Walmsley, Terrie L., 2011. "Where on earth is everybody ? the evolution of global bilateral migration 1960-2000," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5709, The World Bank.
  18. David McKenzie & John Gibson & Steven Stillman, 2006. "Migration and mental health: Evidence from a natural experiment," Natural Field Experiments 00334, The Field Experiments Website.
  19. Ilana Redstone Akresh, 2008. "Occupational Trajectories of Legal US Immigrants: Downgrading and Recovery," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 34(3), pages 435-456.
  20. Lokshin, Michael & Ravallion, Martin, 2005. "Rich and powerful?: Subjective power and welfare in Russia," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 56(2), pages 141-172, February.
  21. Fernando Borraz & Susan Pozo & Máximo Rossi, 2008. "And What About the Family Back Home? International Migration and Happiness," Documentos de Trabajo (working papers) 0308, Department of Economics - dECON.
  22. repec:pri:cheawb:deaton_income_health_and_wellbeing_around_the_world_evidence_%20from_gall is not listed on IDEAS
  23. Ravallion, Martin & Lokshin, Michael, 2002. "Self-rated economic welfare in Russia," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 46(8), pages 1453-1473, September.
  24. Yaohui Zhao, 1999. "Leaving the Countryside: Rural-to-Urban Migration Decisions in China," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(2), pages 281-286, May.
  25. Angus Deaton, 2008. "Income, Health, and Well-Being around the World: Evidence from the Gallup World Poll," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 22(2), pages 53-72, Spring.
  26. Angus Deaton & Arthur A. Stone, 2013. "Two Happiness Puzzles," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(3), pages 591-97, May.
  27. Gibson, John & McKenzie, David & Rohorua, Halahingano, 2008. "How pro-poor is the selection of seasonal migrant workers from Tonga under New Zealand's recognized seasonal employer program ?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4698, The World Bank.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:crm:wpaper:1228. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (CReAM Administrator)

or (Thomas Cornelissen)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.