Does migration make you happy? A longitudinal study of internal migration and subjective well-being
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The majority of quantitative studies on the consequences of internal migration focus almost exclusively on the labour-market outcomes and the material well-being of migrants. We investigate whether individuals who migrate within the UK become happier after the move than they were before, and whether the effect is permanent or transient. Using life-satisfaction responses from twelve waves of the British Household Panel Survey and employing a fixed-effects model, we derive a temporal pattern of migrants’ subjective well-being around the time of the migration event. Our findings make an original contribution by revealing that, on average, migration is preceded by a period when individuals experience a significant decline in happiness for a variety of reasons, including changes in personal living arrangements. Migration itself causes a boost in happiness, and brings people back to their initial levels. The research contributes, therefore, to advancing an understanding of migration in relation to set-point theory. Perhaps surprisingly, long-distance migrants are at least as happy as short-distance migrants despite the higher social and psychological costs involved. The findings of this paper add to the pressure to retheorize migration within a conceptual framework that accounts for social well-being from a life-course perspective.
Nowok , B , Van Ham , M , Findlay , A M & Gayle , V 2013 , ' Does migration make you happy? A longitudinal study of internal migration and subjective well-being ' Environment and Planning A , vol 45 , no. 4 , pp. 986-1002 . DOI: 10.1068/a45287
Environment and Planning A
Copyright 2013 Pion and its licensors. Nowok B, van Ham M, Findlay A M, Gayle V, 2013. The definitive, peer-reviewed and edited version of this article is published in Environment and Planning A, 45(4), 986–1002, 2013 doi:10.1068/a45287
The authors acknowledge financial support from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) (RES-625-28-0001). This project is part of the ESRC Centre for Population Change (CPC). Financial support from the Marie Curie programme under the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme (FP/2007-2013) / Career Integration Grant n. PCIG10-GA-2011-303728 (CIG Grant NBHCHOICE, Neighbourhood choice, neighbourhood sorting, and neighbourhood effects).
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