Happy Newcomers? Subjective Well-Being of First-Generation Immigrants in Germany
36 Pages Posted: 17 Apr 2018
Date Written: December 2017
First-generation immigrants in Germany are surprisingly satisfied with their life. We test to what extent selection, adaptation, or resilience explains their comparatively high level of subjective well-being (SWB). Using Panel data from 1984-2014, we run simultaneous probit and growth curve models and identify competing mechanisms of positive integration. We find mixed evidence for health selection: First-generation immigrants are younger but overall less healthy than Germans. Irrespective of selectivity, significant evidence supports purposive adaptation: First-generation immigrants maintain high levels of happiness by using the local German population as a benchmark only to evaluate their economic situation but not to evaluate their family life. Thus, there is economic but not socio-cultural adaptation. Finally, we find some evidence of higher social but not economic resilience among first-generation immigrants than among Germans. We speculate what this implies for family unification for migrants.
Keywords: First-generation migration, selection, adaptation, resilience, growth curve model, Germany
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