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Subjective well-being of immigrants in the United Kingdom and across Europe: An investigation of host country characteristics, multiculturalism and acculturation

Tay, K. J. (2020). Subjective well-being of immigrants in the United Kingdom and across Europe: An investigation of host country characteristics, multiculturalism and acculturation. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)


This thesis investigates how migration-specific factors, national-level host country characteristics, and individual level characteristics such as cultural and national identities, multiculturalism and acculturation are associated with immigrants’ subjective well-being in the United Kingdom and across Europe. International migration is on the rise in most parts of the world with one in seven of the global population considered to be immigrants (World Health Organisation, 2019). As the second most popular destination country for immigrants in Europe, the resident population in the United Kingdom has grown to be more diverse, especially during the past six decades. The work presented in this thesis aims to contribute to the growing corpus of research that incorporate subjective well-being as a measure of social well-being and progress. The research in Chapter 2 demonstrates SWB differences across immigrant generations and natives in Europe where immigrants are, in general, less satisfied with life compared to natives, and second-generation immigrants are more satisfied than first-generation immigrants. In addition, the attitudes of the native population with respect to public concerns (e.g., importance of trust, fairness and help in the society) and immigration are strongly associated with life satisfaction among all residents in a country. Additional observation into the role of Schwartz’s human values delineates that people who are more satisfied with life are usually more inclined to uphold benevolence, hedonism and self-direction values, but not stimulation, security, achievement and power values. A longitudinal analysis in Chapter 3 provides insights into life satisfaction changes among immigrants in the UK over time while taking into account cultural similarity, spousal characteristics, language proficiency and several key predictors of subjective well-being. Finally, Chapter 4 introduces evidence on the associations between various subjective well-being measures and two psychological components that shape immigrants’ experience: multiculturalism and acculturation. In particular, I assess subjective well-being differences between British natives and immigrant groups as well as the white ethnic majority versus members of ethnic minority groups in the UK. A further investigation of ethnic minorities reveals that their subjective well-being is strongly associated with a sense of belonging to their respective ethnic group. In addition, positive evaluations of cultural diversity and support for multiculturalism are positively associated with subjective well-being. The studies included in this thesis reveal the importance of individual-level predictors and national-level host country characteristics, including support for and tolerance towards multiculturalism and acculturation, in shaping immigrants’ subjective well-being as they integrate into the host society.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Departments: Doctoral Theses
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > School of Health & Psychological Sciences Doctoral Theses
[thumbnail of PhD thesis correction FINAL.pdf]
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