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May 05, 2014 07:51 AM EDT

Mediterranean Countries Make Migrants Unhappy, Study


Immigrants to Mediterranean countries are unhappy, according to a University of Leicester study.

Researchers said that people from the U.K. and five other northern European countries, who migrated to Spain, Portugal, Greece and Cyprus for a better lifestyle, were not too happy with the change and significantly dissatisfied.

For the study, the researchers examined survey data on 265 migrants from Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, Netherlands, France and 73 from the U.K. who immigrated to Mediterranean countries. The data from the European Social Survey was recorded between 2002 and 2010.

The researchers found that on an average, immigrants rated their happiness as 7.3 on a scale of 0-10 compared to 7.5 for 56,000 people who resided in the northern countries.

Researchers re-examined the data by considering external factors like age, health, income, education, friends, employment and religious beliefs.

The researchers found that migrants were 0.3 of a point on the ten-point scale on average (3 in 100) less cheerful about just moving away and settling in a new country. For British immigrants the gap was more prominent, where they claimed to be 0.4 (4 in 100) of a point less contended.

"The key finding from the analysis is that people from northern Europe who migrated to southern Europe are less happy than the stayers in northern Europe," Dr David Bartram of the Department of Sociology, said in a statement.

Bartram said that it is generally believed that immigration helps people be happier because their earnings are higher in the new country and they enjoy an enhanced status.

However, the recent study discovered the reverse. Migration seems to have negatively affected certain key aspects of people's lives - social ties, sense of belonging - at the expense of their happiness.

"Perhaps any positive subjective consequences were outweighed by negative consequences arising from the more general disruptive effects of international migration on one's life. Within the European Union opportunities for such migration are abundant, and migration flows in this mode have reached significant dimensions. The analysis in this paper, however, raises doubts about whether migration in this mode will result in greater happiness for the migrants," Bartram said.

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