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The paradox of immigrants’ satisfaction in Western Europe: life satisfaction and evaluation of societal conditions

postat 12 sept. 2010, 05:04 de Sergiu Baltatescu   [ actualizat la 12 sept. 2010, 05:20 ]

Sergiu Bălţătescu


                8th ESPAnet Conference: Social Policy and the Global Crisis: Consequences and Responses
                Conference, Budapest, 2-4 September 2010

                Abstract: It is evidence that at European level the immigrants have lower quality of life than the natives.      Furthermore, adaptation problems and perceived discrimination lowers their satisfaction with their lives as a whole (Neto, 1995; Safi, 2009). However, they report higher satisfaction with social and political conditions in the host countries. This can be called “the immigration paradox” and was first enounced by Baltatescu (2005) and independently observed by Rinken (2006).
The present study explores the social psychological processes that explain these findings, using data from 13 immigration countries collected in the four rounds of the European Social Survey (2002-2008). The results confirm that in most of these countries the immigrants from first and second generations report lower levels of life satisfaction and higher levels of perceived discrimination 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 lower satisfaction with societal conditions. 
This seems to support the social comparison thesis: immigrants at first generation compare the conditions in the receiving countries with those from the sending countries, but also suggest a negative adaptation hypothesis: migrants from future generations adapt their societal quality expectations to those of natives. This may explain the dissatisfaction that bursts in riots in France, but also help to predict the response that immigrants may give to the lowering of their quality of life as a result of the economic crisis.

Keywords: migration, life satisfaction, acculturation, bottom-up hypothesis, paradox

Sergiu Baltatescu,
12 sept. 2010, 05:17