Does Migration Increase Happiness? It Depends

Report Author: 
Martijn Hendriks
Date of Publication: 
June, 2018

"Does Migration Increase Happiness? It Depends" reviews available evidence from the social science literature on the effects of migration on the happiness of both migrants and native-born residents in immigrant-receiving countries, with special attention to the 2018 World Happiness Report published by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network. Researchers determine Happiness levels in two ways: affectively using mood questions, and cognitively using questions to determine overall satisfaction with life.

According to the 2018 World Happiness Report, based on a Gallup survey of some 36,000 migrants from more than 150 countries, international migrants worldwide evaluate the quality of their lives on average 9 percent higher after migration (based on a comparison with those who stayed behind). However, there were wide variations in happiness levels based on countries of origin and destination: for example, a gain of 29 percent for migrants from Sub-Saharan Africa moving to Europe, but negligible gains or negative results for Latin American and Caribbean immigrants moving to North America or Europe. The authors also note that happiness gains tend to level off the longer immigrants live in the destination country, perhaps because they "evaluate their conditions in the host country through an increasingly critical lens."

Although the author notes that "the literature on migrant happiness is in its infancy," he asserts that current evidence "suggests that human migration contributes to a happier world..." (American Immigrant Policy Portal)


View Online


Hendricks, M. (2018). Does Migration Increase Happiness? It Depends. Migration Information Source. Retrieved from

Source Organization: 
Migration Policy Institute