Local-level immigration and life satisfaction: the EU enlargement experience in England and Wales

Publication type

Journal Article


Publication date

June 1, 2018


The 2004 European Union enlargement resulted in an unprecedented wave of 1.5 million workers relocating from Eastern Europe to the UK. We study the links between this migrant inflow and life satisfaction of native residents in England and Wales. Combining the British Household Panel Survey with the Local Authority level administrative data from the Worker Registration Scheme, we find that higher levels of local immigration were associated with a decrease in life satisfaction among older, unemployed and lower-income people, and with an increase in life satisfaction among younger, employed, higher-income and better educated people. These findings are driven by the initial ‘migration shock’ – the inflows that occurred in the first two years after the enlargement. Overall, our study highlights the importance of local-level immigration in shaping the life satisfaction of receiving populations. We also argue that our results help explain the socio-demographic patterns observed in the UK Brexit vote.

Published in

Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space

Volume and page numbers

Volume: 50 , p.175 -193








Latest findings, new research

Publications search

Search all research by subject and author


Researchers discuss their findings and what they mean for society


Background and context, methods and data, aims and outputs


Conferences, seminars and workshops

Survey methodology

Specialist research, practice and study

Taking the long view

ISER's annual report


Key research themes and areas of interest