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Happy Moves? Assessing the Link between Life Satisfaction and Emigration Intentions

Ivlevs, Artjoms



© 2015 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. It has been shown that higher levels of subjective well-being lead to greater work productivity, better physical health and enhanced social skills. Because of these positive externalities, policymakers across the world should be interested in attracting and retaining happy and life-satisfied migrants. This paper studies the link between life satisfaction and one's intentions to move abroad. Using survey data from 35 European and Central Asian countries, I find a U-shaped association between life satisfaction and emigration intentions: it is the most and the least life-satisfied people who are the most likely to express intentions to emigrate. This result is found in countries with different levels of economic development and institutional quality. The instrumental variable results suggest that higher levels of life satisfaction have a positive effect on the probability of reporting intentions to migrate. The findings of this paper raise concerns about possible 'happiness drain' in migrant-sending countries.


Ivlevs, A. (2015). Happy Moves? Assessing the Link between Life Satisfaction and Emigration Intentions. Kyklos, 68(3), 335-356.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Jan 1, 2015
Journal Kyklos
Print ISSN 0023-5962
Electronic ISSN 1467-6435
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 68
Issue 3
Pages 335-356
Keywords happiness, life satisfaction, emigration intentions, Eastern Europe
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Additional Information : This is the accepted version of the following article: Ivlevs, A. (2015) Happy moves? Assessing the link between life satisfaction and emigration intentions. Kyklos, 68 (3). pp. 335-356. ISSN 0023-5962, which has been published in final form at


manuscript_kyklos_uwe_repository.docx (104 Kb)

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