Determinants of Life Satisfaction Among Immigrants from Western Countries and from the FSU in Israel
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- Amit, K. Soc Indic Res (2010) 96: 515. doi:10.1007/s11205-009-9490-1
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This study examines the integration of immigrants via their satisfaction with life in the new country. While most studies on immigrant integration have focused on objective integration parameters such as education, occupation and salary (e.g., Borjas in Friends or strangers: the impact of immigrants on the US economy. Basic Books, New York, 1990), subjective parameters have traditionally received less attention. However, in recent years it has become increasingly clear that subjective perceptions carry considerable weight in the social-integration process of immigrants (McMichael and Manderson in Human Organ 63(1):88–99, 2004; Massey and Redstone in Soc Sci Q 87(5):954–971, 2006). The study group consists of Jewish immigrants who arrived in Israel during the past two decades from two different regions of origin: Western countries, and the Former Soviet Union (FSU). All of these immigrants are generally highly educated and skilled, but they came to Israel from different societies and contrasting motives. The objective of this study is to learn about the integration of these immigrants via their satisfaction with life in Israel and to understand the factors that explain it, taking into account the differences between the immigrant groups. The findings, based on the 2007 Ruppin representative survey data (The data for this study was obtained with the support of the Israeli Ministry of Immigrant Absorption.), point to significant differences between the two immigrant groups under discussion. Western immigrants are more satisfied with their lives in Israel than FSU immigrants and have higher scores in most of the independent variables tested. The multivariate analyses for predicting an immigrant’s life satisfaction reveal that those reporting the greatest satisfaction are women, religious, with a high standard of living, with no academic education, and stronger Israeli identity (personal and as perceived by others). In addition, different variables play a role in predicting the life satisfaction for each immigrant group. This knowledge may be of service to Israeli policymakers dealing with the immigration and integration of highly skilled immigrants in Israeli society.