English title: Unhappier, But More Satisfied: Social Comparison and the Paradox of the Immigrant Satisfaction

Author(s): Sergiu Marian Baltatescu -

Language: English

Type: Conference paper/poster

Year: 2014


One of the responses to the challenges posed by the need for immigrant integration is to better understand the socio-psychological mechanisms that govern their attitudes towards the receiving countries. It is known that these people are subjected to adaptation problems and discrimination. Also as a result of their lower socio-economic status, they are unhappier and more unsatisfied with their lives than natives (Melzer, 2011; Olgiati, Calvo, & Berkman, 2012; Safi, 2010). However, when they are asked about the social and political conditions in the host countries, they report higher satisfaction than the natives. This can be called “the immigration paradox” (Baltatescu, 2005, 2007). This was mainly explained by social comparison: immigrants compare the conditions in the receiving countries with those from the sending countries, which increase their satisfaction with societal conditions. However, it is expected that this effect will diminish in the second generation: these migrants would adapt their societal quality expectations to those of natives. In this study we explore the social psychological processes that underpin immigrant satisfaction, using data from 13 immigration countries collected in the first five rounds of the European Social Survey (2002-2010). Results generally confirm that in most of these countries the immigrants from first and second generations report lower levels of life satisfaction than the natives. While first generation immigrants display higher evaluations of the economy, political system, democracy, health and educational systems than the rest of the population, the second generation immigrants have a satisfaction with societal conditions similar with the natives. This partially confirm the assimilation thesis. Finding are discussed in relationship with theory of assimilation and social comparison. We infer that this results in an increase resolution of this group to stay in their receiving countries throughout the crisis, although the levels of dissatisfaction does not exclude the possibility of further riots in European suburbs.

Conference name: Rethinking EU Immigration: legal developments, management and practices

Location: Bucharest

Start date: Mar 13, 2014

Type: Paper

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