Social Indicators Research

, Volume 115, Issue 1, pp 159–182 | Cite as

Is Subjective Well-Being of Concern to Potential Migrants from Latin America?

  • Namrata ChindarkarEmail author


This paper examines the effect of life satisfaction on intention to migrate abroad using survey data on 18 Latin American countries. Three key findings emerge that support life satisfaction as a significant driver of intention to migrate abroad. First, the findings suggest that reporting high life satisfaction is negatively associated with intention to migrate abroad controlling for education and other background factors. Second, I find a consistently negative and significant effect of the interaction between high life satisfaction and education suggesting that more educated individuals reporting high life satisfaction are less likely to consider migrating abroad as compared to more educated individuals reporting low life satisfaction. And third, even after controlling for consumption and relative deprivation the negative effect of the high life satisfaction and education interaction term on intention to migrate abroad remains statistically significant suggesting that international migration decisions of those with higher education are not solely driven by economic motives. In addition, I find that those who are highly educated (college and higher) are more likely to consider migrating abroad, holding life satisfaction, consumption, and relative deprivation constant, mainly due to weak economic outlook of and low wages in the home country.


Subjective well-being Life satisfaction Relative deprivation Intention to migrate 



I would like to thank Carol Graham, Melissa Kearney, Steve Heeringa, Madiha Afzal, and Kevin Jones and the anonymous reviewer for their valuable comments. I am also grateful to participants of the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management (2011) and the Fifth Southeastern International Development Economics conferences for their helpful feedback. All remaining errors are mine alone.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Lee Kuan Yew School of Public PolicyNational University of SingaporeSingaporeSingapore

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