Inside Integration and Acculturation—Migrants' Life Satisfaction in Europe

Research question/goal: 

This project aims to examine immigrants’ integration outcomes from a subjective perspective. By focusing on immigrant life satisfaction, this project deepens scholarly understanding on how migrants evaluate and feel about their post-migration life situations. Three steps are taken to examine factors of immigrant life satisfaction.

At the macro level, socioeconomic, political and sociocultural characteristics in host and home countries are examined. Drawing on data from multiple rounds of the European Social Survey, a comparative investigation among eighteen European countries showed that immigrants’ life satisfaction varies with attitudes of the native-born towards immigrants, availability of public goods, and extent of economic inequality in host countries. A follow-up study based on the same data set further revealed that immigrants compare institutional traits of host and home countries. Among others, satisfaction with the country’s economy is the strongest predictor of life satisfaction, particularly among immigrants with predominantly economic migration motives, such as those arriving from Turkey, Eastern and Southern Europe.

At the mezzo level, the project team tests the widely assumed detrimental impact of the increase in the immigrant population from non-Christian backgrounds on the level of life satisfaction in the local area by focusing on religious composition within each Local Authority area in the UK. Findings show that the increase in Muslim population has a negative causal effect only on life satisfaction of non-religious, mainly white British individuals.

At the individual level, the present life situations of individuals are compared to their past experience and to those of others. The project team examines how immigrants’ life satisfaction varies with perceptions of their own income status relative to various targeted reference groups, ranging from the mainstream to the co-ethnic group in the host country and to the home country population. Findings show that the resulting variation in immigrants’ life satisfaction corresponds to the varying extents of their integration across generations.

Fact sheet

2010 to 2019
Data Sources: 
secondary data
Geographic Space: 
Germany, Great Britain, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Israel and Turkey