This paper provides the first evidence regarding the impact of life satisfaction on the individual intention to migrate. The authors develop the theoretical and empirical models for analyzing the individual intention to migrate. The effects of both individual and country level factors on the intention to migrate are evaluated in one framework.
The empirical finding of this paper suggests that people dissatisfied with life have a higher intention to migrate. The macroeconomic conditions have an effect on the intention to migrate indirectly through life satisfaction. These empirical findings underline the importance of individual life satisfaction not only as a strong predictor of the individual migration decision, but also as a mediator between economic and political conditions and this decision.
Additionally, the authors analyze the differences in intentions to migrate permanently and temporarily for the Central European (CEE) countries and the Western European (non-CEE) countries. The impact of individual characteristics such as income and education levels, employment status, the type of residence area, and age on the intention to migrate in CEE and non-CEE countries is examined at different levels of life satisfaction.
The authors find that at all levels of life satisfaction, individuals with similar characteristics have higher intentions to migrate from CEE countries than from non-CEE countries. The low level of life satisfaction of individuals from CEE countries may be associated with the lower quality of institutions and business environment and with the development of the social security system in this region. Improvements in these conditions will result in an increase in individual life satisfaction and, thus, will lower individual migration intentions.
In conclusion the authors claim that obtained findings can be generalized for the migration decisions in transition countries. It may also be interesting to implement the developed model in a more detailed study of internal migration.