Determinants of well-being among legal and illegal immigrants : evidence from South Italy

Federica D'Isanto, Panagiotis Fouskas, Melania Verde

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


The pursuit of happiness and life satisfaction mobilises individuals to create a dynamic, unique, everyday reality for themselves. The literature has placed particular emphasis on the study of immigrants on the basis that migration is triggered by discrepancies between prior expectations and realisations post-migration. However, the relationship between happiness and illegal migration has received little attention. This study contributes to the current literature by analysing a sample of both illegal and legal immigrants to test the established socio-economic drivers of well-being for each group. Additionally, for the first time, the subjective well-being (SWB) of the respondents is measured in a continuous scale utilising the Visual Analogue Scale technique. Our findings demonstrate that illegal immigrants not only experience greater increases in SWB, but they also report higher levels. Finally, the income effect is positively correlated (although weak) with SWB for illegal immigrants only and family size is positively correlated with greater levels of SWB for their legal counterparts.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSocial Indicators Research
Early online date10 Mar 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Well-being
  • Happiness
  • Life satisfaction
  • Illegal migration
  • Visual Analogue Scale


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