Migrants and Life Satisfaction: The Role of the Country of Origin and the Country of Residence

Reprint No. 2020:48

Author(s): Niclas Berggren, Andreas Bergh, Christian Bjørnskov and Shiori TanakaYear: 2020 Title: Kyklos Volume (No.): 73 (3) Pages: 436–463
Online article (restrictions may apply)
Preliminary version

We investigate how the life satisfaction of migrants is affected by life satisfaction in their background country and in their new country of residence. In particular, we contribute to the literature by differentiating between first‐ and second‐generation immigrants and by differentiating between types of background country. Using data from the European Social Survey on 30,000 immigrants from 200 countries in 32 European countries, we find that for first‐generation immigrants, the effect of the average life satisfaction of the background country is strong for migrants from developed countries, smaller for migrants from developing countries and zero for migrants from post‐communist countries. Moreover, the effect from the country of residence is strong for all groups, indicating that while most of these immigrants retain ties to or are still under the influence of the culture of the old country, they develop important ties to the new country. However, second‐generation immigrants are not influenced by the life‐satisfaction of the background country at all, indicating that they are strongly attuned to life in the country in which they were born.

Berggren, Niclas, Andreas Bergh, Christian Bjørnskov and Shiori Tanaka (2020), "Migrants and Life Satisfaction: The Role of the Country of Origin and the Country of Residence". Kyklos 73(3), 436–463.

Niclas Berggren


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Andreas Bergh


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Christian Bjørnskov


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Interdisciplinary European Studies

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This book explores the complex and ever-changing relationship between the European Union and its member states. The recent surge in tension in this relationship has been prompted by the actions of some member state governments as they question fundamental EU values and principles and refuse to implement common decisions seemingly on the basis of narrowly defined national interests.

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