Anti-immigrant Sentiments and Immigrants’ Happiness

Document Type : Original Article


1 Charles R. Drew University

2 1731 E 120th St # L



Background: Anti-immigrant sentiment is a macro-level determinant of how immigrants are treated in a country. However, very few studies test whether anti-immigrant sentiments at the macro level are associated with individual-level outcomes such as the well-being of immigrants.
Aim: In the current study and built on a multi-level model of happiness, as well as marginalization-related diminished returns (MDRs) theory that shows immigrants show worse-than-expected outcomes, we conducted this study to test the association between country-level anti-immigrant sentiments and individual-level happiness across European countries.
Methods: For this cross-sectional study, we borrowed data from European Social Survey 2020 (ESS 2020). Participants were recruited from Bulgaria, Czechia, Estonia, Finland, France, Croatia, Hungary, Lithuania, Slovenia, and Slovakia. Participants included 997 individuals who identified as an immigrant. Age, sex, education, employment (worked in the past week), and self-rated health were control variables. Country-level anti-immigrant sentiment was the independent variable. Happiness was the outcome. Linear regression was used for data analysis.
Results: Overall, a higher level of anti-immigrant sentiment was associated with a lower level of immigrants' happiness. The results remained similar without and with control variables (age, gender, education, employment, and self-rated health) in the model.
Conclusion: Higher anti-immigrant sentiments, at the macro-level, are associated with a lower level of happiness of immigrants at the individual level. Research should test if country-level anti-immigrant sentiments contribute to reduced opportunities and worse treatment of immigrants.