Jan 26

The grass might not be greener on the other side of the border, a new study from the University of Leicester has found. According to it, economic migrants travelling to different shores for greater income could be set for disappointment, because the pursuit of wealth does not necessarily equate with happiness.

Sociologist Dr David Bartram carried out the study: “Economic Migration and Happiness: Comparing Immigrants’ and Natives’ Happiness Gains from Income.”, in which he sought to establish whether those people who were motivated by higher incomes in a wealthy country actually gain greater happiness via migration. He also examined whether these economic migrants might have exaggerated expectations about what they will achieve and experience, such that there is some significant disappointment.

The result, according to Dr. Bartram: “The study of happiness tells us that people generally do not gain greater happiness from earning higher incomes – which suggests that migrants might be mistaken in believing that they will be better off if they can move to a wealthy country. (..) I also considered whether those who choose to migrate to a wealthy country are different from most people in this regard – perhaps they do gain greater happiness from higher incomes. So, the research seeks to determine whether in general we should be pessimistic or optimistic about the consequences of migration for the migrants themselves.”

“The results suggest that economic migrants might well experience disappointment. Migrants do gain happiness from higher incomes, to a greater extent than natives – but the relationship is weak even for migrants. In fact, it also works out that migrants are less happy than natives. The probable reason is that they expect to be happier by virtue of earning the greater incomes available in a wealthy country — but they end up wanting even more after they get there: aspirations probably increase at least as much as incomes! In short, even after an increase migrants find it difficult to feel satisfied with their incomes — just like the rest of us.
Many of us are guilty of believing that money is more important for happiness than it is – and this research suggests that migrants are not terribly different in this regard. Life as an immigrant in a wealthy country can be very hard.”

The research examined responses from 1400 people in the World Values Survey (existing survey data). Dr Bartram said that his study might also serve to allay some media fears and people’s concerns about being “overrun” by immigrants: “The fact is, most people around the world do not want to move to a wealthy country like the UK: perhaps they understand that money is not the most important thing, that there would be a real price to pay in leaving one’s family and community. And perhaps the research could also help potential migrants, especially those who are attracted by wealthy-country income prospects, to develop a better understanding of what life as an immigrant in a wealthy country would really be like.”

(Sources: ScienceDaily; Bartram, D.: “Economic Migration and Happiness: Comparing Immigrants’ and Natives’ Happiness Gains From Income.” in: Social Indicators Research, 2010; DOI: 10.1007/s11205-010-9696-2)

Apr 22

There is a high number of research studies about strategies to treat and fight pain – so, what does really help?

In psychology and hypnotherapy it is well-known that our psyche is one of the most important control points for pain relief. Many readers of this blog will already have read about the surprisingly good effect of placebos in pain management. Now psychologists at the Sun Yat-Sen University, the University of Minnesota and the University of Florida recently discovered that money also shows effects similar to placebos or at least has comparably positive influences on people suffering from pain. Although the trials did not really meet the highest scientific standards, they showed a clear tendency for the subjects who previously had physical contact with banknotes or induced fantasies of wealth, to respond with significantly reduced pain perception. Similarly, a reverse effect was apparent, namely higher expectation of pain at the loss of money. Money images relaxed stressful situations, and psychological and physical pain and suffering, while lack of money increased the suffering.