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Internal Migration, Social Stratification and Dynamic Effects on Subjective Well Being

SOEPpapers 1046, 27 S.

Marcel Erlinghagen, Christoph Kern, Petra Stein


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Using German panel data and relying on internal relocation, this paper investigates the anticipation and adaptation of subjective well-being (SWB) in the course of migration. We hypothesize that SWB correlates with the process of migration, and that such correlations are at least partly socially stratified. Our fixed-effects regressions show no evidence of any anticipation of SWB before the event of migration, but a highly significant and sustained positive adaptation effect. In general, internal migration seems to lead to a long-lasting increase in SWB. This is found to be the case for almost all analyzed socioeconomic and socio-demographic subgroups. The migration distance, the reasons for migration, and the individuals’ socio-demographic characteristics do not appear to have any important effects on the overall observed pattern. Our results suggest that regional mobility is less a response to certain stressors, but is, rather, a response to an opportunity to improve job- or housing-related living conditions, and that these improved conditions are reflected in individuals’ SWB. Thus, migration under these circumstances is triggered by opportunities rather than by constraints.

Keywords: Subjective well-being, migration, relocation, life course, adaptation, anticipation
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