Applied Research in Quality of Life

, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp 161–188 | Cite as

The Determinants of Well-Being Among International Economic Immigrants: A Systematic Literature Review and Meta-Analysis

  • Anna Bak-KlimekEmail author
  • Thanos Karatzias
  • Lawrie Elliott
  • Rory Maclean


Over the past decades migration has increased dramatically. Most of the scientific literature on immigrant mental health has focussed on stress, distress and mental illness. Less attention has been paid to positive aspects in particular mental well-being. The existing studies among immigrants who move for economic, educational or personal reasons have not been systematically reviewed and analysed to provide an overview of the factors which may affect their subjective well-being. Further, we do not know the extent to which the existing integrative theory of well-being, the Theory of Sustainable Happiness (Lyobumirsky et al. in Review of General Psychology 9:111–131, 2005) derived from research on general population is substantiated by research conducted with immigrants. To address these gaps we conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of the determinants of well-being among international immigrants. Overall 11 studies met inclusion criteria for the meta-analysis. The analyses revealed that social support and dispositional factors (e.g. optimism, self-esteem) are strongly related to well-being whilst circumstantial factors such as income or duration of migration have weak and nonsignificant relationship with it. The findings are consistent with the Theory of Sustainable Happiness (2005) which suggests that circumstantial factors account for much less variance of well-being than dispositional factors because people tend to adapt to their circumstances. The study highlights the critical role of social support and intrapersonal factors in promoting and sustaining well-being of immigrants.


Happiness Meta-analysis, migrants Systematic review Theory 

Supplementary material

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Supplement 1 (DOCX 17 kb)
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Supplement 2 (DOC 170 kb)
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Supplement 3 (DOC 109 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht and The International Society for Quality-of-Life Studies (ISQOLS) 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anna Bak-Klimek
    • 1
    Email author
  • Thanos Karatzias
    • 1
  • Lawrie Elliott
    • 1
  • Rory Maclean
    • 1
  1. 1.Edinburgh Napier UniversityEdinburghUK

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