Moving Towards Happiness?

Published: 2019

Authors: Dennis Wesselbaum, Arthur Grimes

We add to the literature on the driving forces of international migration. While the existing literature establishes that income differences, migration costs and certain other factors (e.g. climate or human rights) affect the migration decision, we focus on the broader role of non‐pecuniary factors. We include well‐being measures in a standard model of bilateral migration flows and enrich the analysis further by testing the effects on migration of inequality in happiness within a country. Our findings that both the mean and standard deviation of happiness – in both origin and destination countries – help explain bilateral migration flows over and above any income effect, indicates the need to incorporate both pecuniary and non‐pecuniary factors when modelling migration choices.


Wesselbaum, Dennis & Arthur Grimes. “Moving towards happiness.” International Migration, January 2019, DOI:

This topic in other formats

Working Paper

Moving towards happiness (2018)