Marcel Erlinghagen, Christoph Kern, Petra Stein
Internal migration, social stratification and dynamic effects on subjective well being

SOEP papers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research; 1046
27 S.
ISSN: 1864-6689 (online)

Using German panel data and relying on internal relocation, this paper investigates the anticipation and adaptation of subjective well-being (SWB) in the course of migration. We hypothesize that SWB correlates with the process of migration, and that such correlations are at least partly socially stratified. Our fixed-effects regressions show no evidence of any anticipation of SWB before the event of migration, but a highly significant and sustained positive adaptation effect. In general, internal migration seems to lead to a long-lasting increase in SWB. This is found to be the case for almost all analyzed socioeconomic and socio-demographic subgroups. The migration distance, the reasons for migration, and the individuals’ socio-demographic characteristics do not appear to have any important effects on the overall observed pattern. Our results suggest that regional mobility is less a response to certain stressors, but is, rather, a response to an opportunity to improve job- or housing-related living conditions, and that these improved conditions are reflected in individuals’ SWB. Thus, migration under these circumstances is triggered by opportunities rather than by constraints.