Life satisfaction and desire to emigrate: What does the cross-national analysis show?

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Few articles explain how life satisfaction and happiness influence intention to migrate to another country. This study fills the gap by investigating the desire to emigrate in relation to individual life satisfaction while testing for moderation effects of national life satisfaction scores, the Human Development Index and Gender Inequality Index at country level. The empirical analysis is based on the unique Gallup World Poll data for 127 countries in 2017. In line with previous research, the findings confirm a negative association between life satisfaction (both individual and country level) and the desire to emigrate. Furthermore, results point to mean country life satisfaction, human development and gender inequality levels acting as moderators of individual-level life satisfaction on the desire to emigrate. Higher aggregate life satisfaction levels act as counter-forces to individual life satisfaction, performing as enablers of stay versus move. In countries with lower human development and higher gender inequality, individual life satisfaction will act as an enabler to move. A comprehensive discussion includes findings for gender and age groups and those born or not born in the country.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)349-372
Number of pages24
JournalInternational Migration
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography


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