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Deadline: 2011, August 31. "Migration and Happiness"

posted Jan 14, 2011, 7:05 AM by Sergiu Baltatescu   [ updated Jan 7, 2012, 2:26 PM ]

Guest editor: David Bartram, University of Leicester (UK)

JSR&P invites original paper submissions for a special issue on Migration and Happiness, to bring together papers exploring the intersection of two topics that feature very prominently in public discourse and debates.

Happiness – long a topic of interdisciplinary scholarly efforts among social scientists – has now become a matter of significant interest for public policy-makers as well.  Senior figures in the British government, for example, convene regular meetings of a “Whitehall Well-Being Working Group” to consider happiness dimensions of public policy, and French president Nikolas Sarkozy in 2009 commissioned a report on happiness in France from two well-known economists.

Research on happiness (and the closely related topic of life satisfaction) is particularly innovative in its rejection of a core premise of modern economics: “revealed preferences”.  Instead of assuming that people are better off in “objective” ways e.g. for having higher incomes – and that we can know this via observation of choices and behaviour – happiness studies focuses on the subjective dimension of well-being.  In place of economists’ axioms regarding utility, then, happiness researchers address an empirical question: what are the choices, actions and characteristics that bring happiness? 

There is significant scope for revisiting a number of core issues in research on migration via consideration rooted in a happiness studies perspective.  Examples of questions might include:

  • Under what conditions do immigrants of various types end up achieving higher levels of happiness?
  • In particular, does greater integration (however conceived) lead to greater happiness?
  • Do certain types of government/policy approaches regarding immigrants lead to greater happiness, and do other approaches inhibit happiness?
  • What are the happiness consequences of immigration for natives?  Some researchers (as well as politicians and activists) worry particularly about the challenge to national identity believed to follow from immigration; does that challenge find expression in lower happiness among natives?
  • To what extent is it legitimate to consider happiness consequences (both for immigrants and for natives) in ethical discussions about migration policies?  For example, if it were established that immigration leads to decreased happiness among natives, what consideration (if any) ought to be given to a finding of that sort in determination of immigration control/management policies?  Observers are divided as to the legitimacy of taking economic consequences for natives into account in ethical discussions of this sort – does shifting the focus to happiness consequences help resolve this type of dispute?
  • What are the methodological challenges that arise in researching happiness in relation to migration, and how might those challenges be addressed?
  • Again on methodological issues – are there any special measurement issues that arise in regard to immigrants?  Happiness researchers have given extensive consideration to cross-cultural issues regarding survey questions.  What additional considerations might come into play for those who themselves move across cultures?

This list is merely indicative and other ways of making the connection are welcome.

All submissions will be peer reviewed.  For guidelines on manuscript preparation and submission, please visit the journal website.  Please address any inquiries to David Bartram at