IIL Banner 2013
Winter 2013: Issue 2.4    
In this Issue:
Integration and Happiness


Second-generation Vietnamese brothers find happiness after family struggles in a new culture

A Bus Ride, a Promise and a Dream Fulfilled

Billy Baker

December 18, 2013

Boston Globe

Read More Here > >


The American Dream, Compared

Fiona Citkin, Ph,D

December 9, 2013 
Huffington Post
The High Price of Immigration
Paul Collier
August, 28, 2013
Bloomberg News


Milan, Italy

November 3rd-7th, 2014

19th Metropolis International Immigration Conference



The Pursuit of Happiness

'Tis the season to be jolly, fa lala lala la la.


There is evidence that happy people are more trusting, enjoy more social support, live healthier and longer lives, and earn higher salaries. Happiness is associated with many desirable outcomes and it has become a central indicator of human development. 

People experience stress and sadness with life circumstances around the holiday season.  Migrants might be particularly vulnerable to these experiences as they often have lost everything and risked all. We wonder: Are immigrants happy?
BC Graduate School of Social Work, Assistant Professor Rocio Calvo, along with colleagues Kenneth Harttgen from the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich and  Sebastian Vollmer from the University of Gottingen in Germany spend many hours seeking answers to this question and even reduce the question to: 

They find that natives are happier than immigrants and that immigrants tend to become unhappier as they spend time in the country of destination. In addition, immigrants cannot buy happiness. The team observed that although income helps to mitigate some of the negative feelings experienced by immigrants, they do not earn enough money to overcome the hardships associated with the immigration experience. Moreover, the longer immigrants live in the new country and the more they achieve economically, the more likely it is that the extra happiness experienced early in settlement slips away. 


In the realm of social work and integration, pay is significant but the holidays point to the many losses experienced by the first generation, the migrant. From an unfamiliar climate and patterns of eating, to a loss of networks and extended family assistance, the new life is never the rich, familiar and comforting life that has been left. Whether a person migrates for safety, or opportunity or even to follow one's spouse, immigration means uprootedness and can often leave a deficit that cannot be filled by work. The newcomer may be happier with the pay than the local but the local has a happier existence.


One might appreciate the effort in Prince Edward Island, Canada, to welcome newcomers at the holidays. Sharing traditions is not only a component in yuletide celebration but it can also provide cultural education. For many, the dislocation and loss of tradition cannot be measured but the inclusion into new traditions and feeling some connection begins a promising journey, perhaps toward something like 'happiness.'



Westy Egmont, Director 

BCGSSW Immigrant Integration Lab




OneVietnam is an online hub that builds a network among the 3 million people that make up the Vietnamese diaspora, spread over 30 countries around the world. The site is used to mobilize political, financial and social resources for collective action in both members' host countries and back in Vietnam. OneVietnam claims over 1,200 active donors and 100,000 monthly visitors. 


Each year it is estimated that the diaspora sends $10 billion back to families and local communities in Vietnam. A primary goal of OneVietnam is to connect its members to nonprofit agencies serving the community at home and abroad. Through the creation of personal iFoundations, members set up accounts to donate to pre-approved nonprofits. These agencies benefit from this innovative crowd-sourcing platform and from access to a large Vietnamese audience worldwide. 


Read more about OneVietnam > >


Are Migrants Going Up a Blind Ally? Economic Migration and Life Satisfaction around the World: Cross-National Evidence from Europe, North America and Australia

Analia Olgiati, Rocio Calvo, Lisa Berkman 

Social Indicators Research, Volume 114, Issue 2, (November, 2013)

Researchers focused on 16 high-income countries and determined in only a few that immigrants were found to have a distinct correlation between income and well-being. In other countries, these correlations were much less apparent and often depended on the measure used. Researchers interpret these findings to indicate that income is only positively associated with the well-being of new migrants until other non-financial factors related to long-term migration take precedent. Likewise, findings also indicate that immigrants in certain countries report negative associations between wealth and subjective well-being.  

Read More Here > >

Acculturation and Well-Being Among College Students From Immigrant Families

Seth J. Schwartz, Alan S. Waterman, Adriana J. Umana-Taylor, Richard M. Lee, Su Yeong Kim, Alexander T. Vazsonyi, et. al. 

Journal of Clinical Psychology, Volume 69, Issues 4, (April 2013)

Acculturation Expectations and Experiences as Predictors of Ethnic Migrants' Psychological Well-Being  

Tuuli Anna Mähönen and Inga Jasinskaja-Lahti

Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, Volume 44, Issues 5, (July, 2013)

Results showed that acculturative stress and perceived socio-cultural difficulties mediated pre-migration expectations. Pre-acculturative stress and anticipated discrimination impacted post migration experiences associated with well-being. Data from the study also revealed that psychological adaptation was the highest when immigrants faced low anticipated and perceived sociocultural difficulties. Adaptation was also high when migrants anticipated and perceived low levels of discrimination based on their ethnic identity. Further, adaptation was improved when the level of experienced acculturative stress was lower than the level of expected acculturative stress. 

 Read More Here > >

Economic Migration and Happiness: Comparing Immigrants' and Natives' Happiness Gains from Income

David Bartram

Social Indicators Research, Volume 103, Issue 1, (August 2011)

Bartram challenges the idea that increases in income generate similar increases in overall happiness. He extends this notion to economic migrants, asking whether those who migrate in order to increase their income experience greater happiness when their wealth rises. Interestingly, the paper concludes that while increased income does not positively correlate with happiness for native populations, the same does not hold true for immigrant populations. Although the correlation is weak, evidence suggests that economic migrants experience a stronger relationship between income and happiness. The study concludes with a thorough discussion of variables that may impact immigrant happiness and mental health. 

Read More Here > >

World Migration Report 2013: Migrant Well-Being and Development 
International Organization for Migration
The seventh report in IOM's World Migration Report (WMR) series focuses on the migrant, exploring the positive and negative effects of migration on individual well-being. Many reports linking migration and development concentrate on the broad socioeconomic consequences of migratory processes, and the impact of migration on the lives of individuals can easily be overlooked. In contrast, the WMR 2013 focuses on migrants as persons, exploring how migration affects quality of life and human development across six core dimensions of well-being: financial, career, social, community, physical and subjective.



BOOK: The Immigrant Advantage: What We Can Learn From Newcomers to America About Health, Happiness and Hope

Claudia Kolker (2011): Free Press
"A wonderful positive portrayal of immigrant customs and contributions much needed and much welcome at a time of so much confusion about the foreign-born who live among us."
-Kyriakos S. Markides, Ph.D., University of Texas


BOOK: The Wherewithal of Life: Ethics, Migration and the Question of Well-Being

Michael Jackson (2013): University of California Press

The Wherewithal of Life engages with current developments in the anthropology of ethics and migration studies to explore in empirical depth and detail the life experiences of three young men - a Ugandan migrant in Copenhagen, a Burkina Faso migrant in Amsterdam, and a Mexican migrant in Boston - in ways that significantly broaden our understanding of the existential situations and ethical dilemmas of those migrating from the global south.


MOVIE:  Mother of George

Director Andrew Dosunmu, Screenwriter Darci Picoult (2013): Oscilloscope Labratories

Adenike and Ayodele (The Walking Dead's Danai Gurira and veteran actor Isaach De Bankolé) are a Nigerian couple living in Brooklyn. Following the joyous celebration of the their wedding, complications arise out of their inability to conceive a child - a problem that devastates their family and defies cultural expectations, leading Adenike to make a shocking decision that could either save her family or destroy it. Acclaimed director Andrew Dosumnu (Restless City) captures the nuances of this unique and fascinating culture by creating a beautiful, vibrant, and moving portrait of a couple whose joys and struggles are at once intimate and universal.


EDITORS: M. Bennett, E. Broderick, R. Calvo, W. Egmont, C. Goldstein-Walsh, and A. Young