Understanding Society Scientific Conference 2019

2nd – 4th July, University of Essex

Immigration and self-reported well-being in England
Peter Howley, University of Leeds


In contrast to economic outcomes, relatively little is known about the impact of immigration on natives’ subjective perceptions of their wellbeing. By exploiting spatial and temporal variation in the inflows of migrants into local areas, we find that immigration has a modest negative impact on the subjective well-being of natives as captured by the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ). Certain sub-groups such as relatively older individuals, those with below average household incomes, the unemployed and finally those without any formal educational qualifications experience much more substantive well-being losses than others. These observed wellbeing differentials are congruent with voting patterns evident in the recent UK referendum on EU membership. We put forward perceived as opposed to actual labour market competition and social identity as two potential explanations for the negative wellbeing impacts of immigration for natives.

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