In recent years, immigration has become a prominent topic on the political agenda in many countries, especially in times of large migration flows. The impact of migratory waves on the welfare of the native population is hard to assess and adequate data is hard to find. Most of the extant literature explores the impact of immigration on objective well-being indicators such as wages and employment; however, studies on how immigration affects the subjective well-being (SWB) of natives are scarce.
The aim of this study is to explore the impact of the Europe-wide refugee crisis in 2015 on older people’s personal well-being in several European countries and the potential implications for their social and political attitudes.
Drawing on set-point theory and data from the Survey of Health, Aging and Retirement in Europe (SHARE), I use an experimental study design (i.e., difference in differences) by treating the refugee inflow as an external event that affected the SWB of people in several countries in Europe. The main interest is on how respondents’ SWB levels change from the last interview to the interview at the time the refugee crisis was salient in the media. Respondents that were interviewed during the event serve as treatment and those that were interviewed before as control group.
The main contribution of this work lies in my identification strategy, which is based on exploiting differences in media coverage across countries and temporal variation in SWB within individuals. The focus on the welfare of older people might be of special importance because they represent the social group with a critical outlook and the highest voter turnout
Overall, the first findings suggest that the SWB change from wave 5 to wave 6 does not differ between treatment and control group. However, a closer look reveals that the over-time change in SWB is significantly positive in countries with a “favorable” media coverage and significantly negative in countries with an “unfavorable” media coverage.