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The Determinants of Well-Being Among International Economic Immigrants: A Systematic Literature Review and Meta-Analysis

Bak-Klimek, Anna; Karatzias, Thanos; Elliott, Lawrie; Maclean, Rory


Lawrie Elliott


Over the past decades migration has increased dramatically. Most of the scientific literature on immigrant mental health has focussed on stress, distress and mental illness. Less attention has been paid to positive aspects in particular mental well-being. The existing studies among immigrants who move for economic, educational or personal reasons have not been systematically reviewed and analysed to provide an overview of the factors which may affect their subjective well-being. Further, we do not know the extent to which the existing integrative theory of well-being, the Theory of Sustainable Happiness (Lyobumirsky et al. in Review of General Psychology 9:111–131, 2005) derived from research on general population is substantiated by research conducted with immigrants. To address these gaps we conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of the determinants of well-being among international immigrants. Overall 11 studies met inclusion criteria for the meta-analysis. The analyses revealed that social support and dispositional factors (e.g. optimism, self-esteem) are strongly related to well-being whilst circumstantial factors such as income or duration of migration have weak and nonsignificant relationship with it. The findings are consistent with the Theory of Sustainable Happiness (2005) which suggests that circumstantial factors account for much less variance of well-being than dispositional factors because people tend to adapt to their circumstances. The study highlights the critical role of social support and intrapersonal factors in promoting and sustaining well-being of immigrants.


Bak-Klimek, A., Karatzias, T., Elliott, L., & Maclean, R. (2015). The Determinants of Well-Being Among International Economic Immigrants: A Systematic Literature Review and Meta-Analysis. Applied research in quality of life, 10(1), 161-188.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Dec 30, 2013
Online Publication Date Jan 15, 2014
Publication Date 2015-03
Deposit Date Aug 1, 2016
Publicly Available Date Jan 10, 2017
Journal Applied Research in Quality of Life
Print ISSN 1871-2584
Electronic ISSN 1871-2576
Publisher BMC
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 10
Issue 1
Pages 161-188
Keywords Happiness, Meta-analysis, migrants, systematic review, theory
Public URL


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