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Subjective well-being among ethnic minorities: the Dutch case

Gokdemir, Ozge and Dumludag, Devrim (2011): Subjective well-being among ethnic minorities: the Dutch case.

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Abstract

In this paper, we investigated the role of socio-economic factors like income, unemployment levels, and non-economic factors such as religion, identity and culture to explain the reasons for disparity of happiness levels among Turkish and Moroccan immigrants in the Netherlands by applying a questionnaire survey to 111 Turkish and 96 Moroccan immigrants (Arnhem, Den Haag, Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Utrecht) in the Netherlands.

The overall results of this paper indicate that Turkish immigrants report much lower levels of life satisfaction than Moroccan immigrants in the Netherlands. Typical socio-economic factors like income, unemployment levels and entrepreneurship levels have failed to explain why Turkish immigrants are the least happy immigrant group in the Netherlands. We wanted to search for possible explanations for this disparity by using the Mann-Whitney U Test to reveal non-parametric comparison between two groups (Turks and Moroccans in the Netherlands).

We found that, contrary to the mainstream economic approach, the effect of absolute income for Turkish immigrants was insignificant. On the other hand, the effect of relative income, which mostly explains the low level of life satisfaction, matters for Turkish immigrants. We examined also non-economic facts explaining the disparity. We investigated the role of religion, media, language, identity and discrimination to explain the different levels of life satisfaction for immigrant groups. For example, although poorer health plays an important role in explaining lower life satisfaction, Moroccans who have health problems reported higher satisfaction levels. A strong sense of “Dutch” identity was found to have a positive effect on life satisfaction. Moroccans have a strong sense of Dutch identity, but also they are more satisfied with their lives than Turks who have a strong sense of Dutch identity. Another significant finding is that immigrants who identify themselves as Muslims are much satisfied than immigrants who identify themselves as Moroccan or Turkish.

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