Journal of Social Research & Policy,
Volume: 2, Issue: 2
Date: December 2011
ISSN: 2067-2640 (print), 2068-9861 (electronic)
Abstract: The migration literature shows that Latin American emigrants, in addition to immigrants generally, report lower happiness levels and satisfaction with financial success than natives do in their destination country. We use a survey question from the Latinobarometro on intent to migrate to shed light on attitudes and aspirations prior to migration. We find that potential migrants report the qualities of “frustrated achievers” (e.g. respondents with high objective success in terms of income, but who report low satisfaction with their economic gains) and are less happy than average. Our analysis supports the hypothesis that unhappiness drives migration, while not disproving that migration also creates unhappiness; it is likely that these factors are not mutually exclusive and that they reinforce one another. Our work addresses the broader question of whether unhappiness is a necessary condition for major societal change.
Keywords: Happiness; migration; subjective income; Latin America.