Does Migration Cause Unhappiness or Does Unhappiness Cause Migration? Some Initial Evidence from Latin America

  • Carol GrahamEmail author
Part of the International Handbooks of Quality-of-Life book series (IHQL)


Latin American emigrants, in addition to immigrants generally, report lower happiness levels than do natives in their destination country. We use Latinobarometro data on intent to migrate and find that potential migrants demonstrate the traits of “frustrated achievers” (e.g. respondents with high income gains, but who report low satisfaction with those gains) and are less happy than the average. Our analysis suggests that unhappiness drives migration, while not disproving that migration also creates unhappiness. These factors may reinforce one another. Our work speaks to the broader question of whether unhappiness is a necessary condition for major societal change.


Happiness Migration Subjective income Latin America 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Global Economy and Development Program, Brookings InstitutionWashington, DCUSA

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