Birds of a Feather Flock Together? Own-Group Concentration and Immigrants’ Life Satisfaction in the UK, 2009-2016

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 17:30
Oral Presentation
Jing SHEN, Mannheim Centre for European Social Research (MZES), University of Mannheim, Germany
Irena KOGAN, Mannheim Centre for European Social Research (MZES), University of Mannheim, Germany
The local living environment matters for an individual’s life satisfaction, and this is particularly so for immigrants living in the host country. While socioeconomic factors have commonly been examined at various aggregated levels, cultural coherence between an individual immigrant and the environments he or she lives in has drawn less scholarly attention. This study thus aims to contribute to the literature on the importance of cultural coherence between individuals and the local environment in life satisfaction. With focuses on ethnicity and religion, this study aims to address the following research question: To what extent does the match between an immigrant’s characteristic and the composition of the local environment influence the immigrant’s life satisfaction?

Data were drawn from Understanding Society: the UK Household Longitudinal Study (UKHLS) (waves 1 to 6) between 2009 and 2016. Using the individual identifier, each individual case is directly linked to the geographic area of Local Authority (LA) in each wave. Ethnic and religious compositions of the LA level are thus computed by weighting corresponding frequencies using the cross-sectional weight variable in each wave. Multilevel modelling is used in the analysis, with time-varying observations nested in individuals, which are in turn, nested in the LA. Preliminary findings show that in the dimension of ethnicity, Black immigrants’ life satisfaction increases, and Indian immigrants’ life satisfaction decrease with the percentages of their own-ethnic groups at the LA level. Regarding religion, religious composition seems to matter only for Christians, who feel significantly more satisfied with their lives when living in Christian-dominant LAs. This may be because ethnic boundaries are more important than religious boundaries for immigrants from African and South Asian regions, while religious boundaries are more important than ethnic boundaries for immigrants from Christianity-dominant regions.