Miserable Migrants? Natural Experiment Evidence on International Migration and Objective and Subjective Well-Being
Steven Stillman (),
John Gibson (),
David McKenzie () and
Halahingano Rohorua ()
Additional contact information
Halahingano Rohorua: University of Waikato
No 6871, IZA Discussion Papers from Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)
Over 200 million people worldwide live outside their country of birth and typically experience large gains in material well-being by moving to where incomes are higher. But effects of migration on subjective well-being are less clear, with some studies suggesting that migrants are miserable in their new locations. Observational studies are potentially biased by the self-selection of migrants so a natural experiment is used to compare successful and unsuccessful applicants to a migration lottery in order to experimentally estimate the impact of migration on objective and subjective well-being. The results show that international migration brings large improvements in objective well-being, in terms of incomes and expenditures. Impacts on subjective well-being are complex, with mental health improving but happiness declining, self-rated welfare rising if viewed retrospectively but static if viewed experimentally, self-rated social respect rising retrospectively but falling experimentally and subjective income adequacy rising. We further show that these changes would not be predicted from cross-sectional regressions on the correlates of subjective well-being in either Tonga or New Zealand. More broadly, our results highlight the difficulties of measuring changes in subjective well-being when reference frames change, as likely occurs with migration.
Keywords: subjective well-being; natural experiment; lottery; immigration; Tonga; Pacific Islands (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: I31 J61 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-hap, nep-ltv and nep-mig
References: View references in EconPapers View complete reference list from CitEc
Citations: View citations in EconPapers (9) Track citations by RSS feed
Published in: World Development, 2013, [Online First]
Downloads: (external link)
Journal Article: Miserable Migrants? Natural Experiment Evidence on International Migration and Objective and Subjective Well-Being (2015)
Working Paper: Miserable Migrants? Natural Experiment Evidence on International Migration and Objective and Subjective Well-Being (2012)
This item may be available elsewhere in EconPapers: Search for items with the same title.
Export reference: BibTeX
RIS (EndNote, ProCite, RefMan)
Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:iza:izadps:dp6871
Ordering information: This working paper can be ordered from
IZA, Margard Ody, P.O. Box 7240, D-53072 Bonn, Germany
Access Statistics for this paper
More papers in IZA Discussion Papers from Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) IZA, P.O. Box 7240, D-53072 Bonn, Germany. Contact information at EDIRC.
Bibliographic data for series maintained by Mark Fallak ().