Saturday, April 19, 2008

Happy Immigrants

As an antidote to the gloominess in some of my posts recently, here's some good news: being wealthy apparently does makes you happy. For a long time economists have puzzled over the Easterlin Paradox, the finding that apparently the happiness of nations does not rise with their standard of living above a certain point. But new research - summarised in the chart - suggests that Easterlin got it wrong. There's a good summary here, and the main research paper by Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers is here. Ireland doesn't figure too much in the research paper (though we're doing well in the chart - top right hand corner).

But we do figure more prominently in a fascinating study focused on the 'unhappiness of nations' by David Blanchflower. What is especially interesting is his finding that happiness and life satisfaction are powerful predictors of migration flows (with a measurably separate influence from unemployment and GDP per capita indicators). By and large, emigration is highest from unhappy countries (controlling for different economic circumstances), and immigration is highest into happy countries. Needless to say, Ireland has become something of a 'happy magnet' for unhappy migrants in recent years.

What we don't know for sure is whether the experience of migrating to Ireland actually raises the subjective wellbeing of the migrant - something that would have to be tracked over time probably. However, research my own company has done does show that the vast majority of immigrants to Ireland are happy with their experience of moving here, and most intend to stay. That's certainly one proxy indicator of the hedonic benefits of migration.

1 comment:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...