Life Satisfaction and Subjective Assessments of Success Among East-West Commuters in the Central European Region

Thursday, 14 July 2016: 09:00
Location: Hörsaal 07 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Raimund HAINDORFER, University of Vienna, Austria
Roland VERWIEBE, University of Vienna, Austria
Christoph REINPRECHT, University of Vienna, Austria
This presentation addresses life satisfaction among East-West commuters in the Central European Region (CENTROPE). Reviewing the literature, the life satisfaction concept is seen to be applied – more or less explicitly – as a general indicator of subjectively successful migration. This interpretation is based on a theoretical presumption regarding the migrants’ motives. Life satisfaction studies often conceptualize migration as an attempt to generally improve life, increase quality of life, or maximize benefits.

However, present research has mainly considered the consequences of migration for migrants’ life satisfaction as a function of income gains. Other economic and non-economic outcomes of migration are less often thematized. Moreover, it is questionable whether high levels of satisfaction are to be equalized with subjectively perceived success in migration. Against this background, this presentation addresses three questions: (1) Which economic and non-economic factors affect commuters’ life satisfaction, (2) which factors influence assessments according to which commuting has been beneficial for one’s professional development and life in general, and (3) how is commuters’ life satisfaction connected to subjective assessments of successful commuting?

This presentation is empirically based on quantitative (N = 1,342) and qualitative (N = 27) data drawn from a current research project dealing with residents of the Czech, Slovak and Hungarian border regions who work in Austria. Preliminary quantitative results indicate correlations between assessments of success and life satisfaction. Subjective assessments of commuting are strongly affected by relative gains in status within the commuters’ home societies, educational levels, linguistic skills, experiences of dequalification, and transnational networks. Furthermore, the qualitative findings refer to the relevance of experienced discrimination. Overall, this presentation highlights several crucial subjective dimensions of success that are associated with commuting, yet are not exclusively attributed to economic factors.