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Does Migration Make You Happy? The Influence of Migration on Subjective Well-Being

posted Dec 28, 2011, 9:22 AM by Sergiu Baltatescu   [ updated Jan 7, 2012, 1:17 PM ]

Silvia Maja Melzer1

Journal of Social Research & Policy
Volume: 2, Issue: 2
, pp. 
73-92
Date: December 2011
ISSN: 2067-2640 (print), 2068-9861 (electronic)

Abstract: In the field of neoclassical economics, migrants are expected to move to improve their economic situations, but what are the effects of moving on the subjective well-being (SWB) of migrants? Using longitudinal data from the German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP) (1990-2007), I investigate the influence of migration from Eastern to Western Germany on SWB. The hypotheses in this study are derived from neoclassical economics and from the psychology literature. Following the rational choice framework, I expect that migration improves SWB in the long term. Fixed-effects models distinguish between the effects of unobserved heterogeneity, such as varying personality traits, and migration on SWB. The results reveal that migration has a positive, long-term effect on SWB. In addition, the favorable labor market conditions in Western Germany account for the increasing SWB that is reported by male migrants but does not account for that reported by female migrants.

Keywords: Adaptation, East and West Germany, Migration, Subjective Well-being, Rational Choice.

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Sergiu Baltatescu,
Jan 7, 2012, 1:16 PM