To facilitate migrants and policy-makers in making more informed migration decisions, the focus of this dissertation is on better understanding migrants’ happiness outcomes of migration and its determinants. By integrating the dispersed empirical findings on migrants’ happiness outcomes from migration, it becomes evident that most migrants across the globe do become happier by migrating. Nevertheless, migrants in various migration streams experience negative happiness outcomes of migrating. In addition, migrants moving to more developed countries generally remain less happy than their native counterparts. In fact, migrants barely become happier during their stay in many developed host countries. More generally, then, I argue that migrants generally experience suboptimal outcomes of migration because of the bounded rationality of migrants, policy-makers, and other migration stakeholders. This dissertation highlights various factors that help explain migrants’ happiness outcomes. At the macro level, a particularly strong association is identified between the attitudes of natives towards immigrants and immigrant happiness. Migrants’ inferior social networks and time distribution are important explanations for the happiness gap between migrants and non-migrants. Finally, a key reason why immigrants in Western Europe barely become happier with their length of stay and across generations is their faltering perceptions of the host society that result from a shifting frame-of-reference.

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H.R. Commandeur (Harry) , M.J. Burger (Martijn)
Erasmus University Rotterdam
Department of Applied Economics

Hendriks, M. (2018, January 19). Migrant Happiness : Insights into the broad well-being outcomes of migration and its determinants. Erasmus University Rotterdam. Retrieved from