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

Suggested Citation

Brockmann, Hilke, Happy Newcomers? Subjective Well-Being of First-Generation Immigrants in Germany (December 2017). Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies Research Paper No. RSCAS 2017/63. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3155327 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3155327

Hilke Brockmann (Contact Author)

Jacobs University Bremen ( email )

Campus Ring 1
Bremen, 28725

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