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Happiness and International Migration
Economics Faculty Working Papers
  • Linnea Polgreen, University of Iowa, College of Pharmacy
  • Nicole B Simpson, Colgate University
Document Type
Working Paper
Publication Date
JEL Codes
F22, I31, O15
Working Paper Number
In this paper, we consider the extent to which the aggregate happiness of a country affects the flow of people across its borders. We merge data from the World Values Survey, which produces happiness indices for 84 countries between 1981 and 2004, with three different migration datasets. We find that happiness has a U-shaped relationship with emigration rates: emigration rates fall in happiness for relatively unhappy countries, but rise for relatively happy countries. The U-shaped relationship also holds for migrant flows into the U.S. When analyzing net migration rates, we find that the reverse relationship exists. Net migration is associated with an increase in happiness for relatively unhappy countries, but after a threshold level of happiness, net migration is associated with a decrease in happiness. Our findings are robust to various empirical specifications and datasets.
Citation Information
Linnea Polgreen and Nicole B Simpson. "Happiness and International Migration" (2010)
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