Well-being, integration and liquid migration

University of Latvia, Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, FLPP logos

⭐️ We started the project in September 2018 and will work on it through Augutst 2021.

🎯 Aims

East-West intra-EU migration is often characterized using the concept of «liquid migration» — a form of «new migration» that has a more diverse and fluid character than the «old migration».

The key question this project asks is: to what extent do established notions of integration adequately fit an increasingly uprooted group of migrants such as Eastern European mobile citizens?

The project goes beyond the traditional measures of integration such as income and labor market success. By merging migration research and research on subjective well-being, the project will shed new light on the outcomes of integration as experienced by migrants themselves in various areas of life (economic, health, psychological and social wellbeing).

Applying a longitudinal design to an unprecedented large-scale web survey of migrants from Latvia allows to track changes over time, providing the most reliable evidence of the effects of migration on wellbeing and happiness, particularly in relation to the liquid character of contemporary migration. A deeper insight into the situation of migrants will be gained by triangulating the quantitative data with qualitative interviews and administrative data.

❓ Topics in focus

  • Skills and labour market acivities of migrant population
  • Subjective well-being
  • Health dimension
  • Children and families through migration experiences

This project continues a notable line of social research focused on migration of Latvian population. We draw upon rich experience obtained in 2014–2015 in the project «Emigrant Communities of Latvia», which was futher developed at the University of Latvia in general and at the Institute of Philosophy and sociology in particular.

👥 Team

Project director

  • Inta Mieriņa

Leading researchers

  • Mihails Hazans,
  • Ieva Reine


  • Ilze Koroļeva,
  • Māris Goldmanis,
  • Aleksandrs Aleksandrovs,
  • Daina Grosa,
  • Laura Bužinska

Well-being, integration and liquid migration Project logo

🔎 Research directions

Interpretation of ‘integration’ in the context of ‘liquid migration’ (WP3)

Taking an interpretative approach, this work package seeks to advance our understanding of the concept of integration in the light of new forms of mobility such as liquid migration characteristic to East European migrants by shedding light on what integration means for the liquid migrants themselves.

A new list of subjective dynamic integration measures will be developed, focusing on individual aspirations, identities and attachments, that do not require constant physical presence and that fit the subjective interpretations and feelings of migrants themselves.

The well-being of uprooted migrants in various areas of life across time (WP4)

In this work package, our objective are:

  • to provide the most robust statistical assessment of the effect of migration on the social and psychological well-being of migrants;
  • to reveal the main factors that affect – in the short and long term – the changes or stability in migrants’ subjective assessment of well-being.

The study of the subjective well-being components will be carried out on three levels: theoretical methodological — the analysis of conceptual grounds of emigrants’ life self-actualisation judgements and adaptation in the host countries; empiric methodological — the complex research of empirical indicators that explain subjective well-being, elaboration of typology and determinant models; applied — the ways of applying the interpretation and conclusions drawn from empirical results in actual social policy.

Well-being of migrant children: objective and subjective measures (WP5)

The aim of the work package is to tease out issues that influence the subjective well-being of migrant children — both those who have emigrated away from their homeland as well as those who have remigrated after living elsewhere for a period of time.

Among topics covered in the analysis will be the children’s sense of belonging (to the new country of residence, and the country of origin), their sense of family, self-esteem, identity, coping strategies regarding integration into the new school system (both academically and socially), future hopes and dreams, a sense of emotional and physical well-being (frequency of illness, mood swings, withdrawal, unfamiliar characteristics that may surface), resilience (the ability to cope with change).

These topics will be raised with parents, children and teachers at various stages in the form of interviews of the migration process – before (re)migration, soon after migration and a year after migration to get a sense of the changes (if any) in the families and their attitude to life in general.

The key research question this WP aims to answer is: Looking from both a subjective and objective perspective what are the key factors that affect migrant childrens’ sense of happiness and well-being? We hypothesise that repeatedly uprooted school-aged children need long-term support, specifically catered to their individual needs, and that support mechanisms need to be available not only for children but for parents as well.

The role of social security systems in ensuring the health and psychological well-being of migrants in Europe (WP6)

As part of this WP the association of return- and transnational migration and social inclusion from the scope of the determinants of health, e.g. participation in society, economic well-being, and accessibility to healthcare, will be studied, applying the gender perspective.

This WP is expected to generate knowledge on behaviour, health and psychological well-being regarding the use of social insurance related to healthcare. The initial step of the project will be a profound study of the EU directives, and how the legislation ensures rights and available health services for different groups of migrants. The data analysis method will consist of explorative, quantitative multivariate regression techniques as well as qualitative studies. Other data collection will also take place, including research on health-related aspects. The triangulation method plans to include in-depth interviews and focus group discussions with return and transnational migrants to Latvia and other European countries, as well as administrative data. Thus, the study is going to, by using objective measurements and individual experiences, analyse perceived social insurance support (as it refers to health) and its impact on health and well-being among migrants.

A direct relationship between wellbeing and the determinants of health will be drawn, and the project is going to be conducted with a gender perspective. The project has an ambition to develop new methodologies in healthcare policy and public health research in relation to transnational migration.

Migrants as agents of change: Unique skills, international experience, and labour market position (WP7)

This WP seeks to explore the role of migrants as agents of change, focusing on unique, rare or complementary skills acquired by migrants through international experience. Second, it will shed light on the question to what extent such skills strengthen migrants’ labour market positions and increase their earnings, job satisfaction and life satisfaction. Skills thus are going to be the key element of the study, linking labour market and well-being effects.

The WP will provide systematic evidence on the scope and variety of unique or complementary skills brought by Latvian emigrants to the host countries and by return migrants to Latvia, distinguishing between liquid and settled migrants on one hand and between general (soft) and specific (hard) skills, on the other.

The research questions this WP aims to answer include: What is the role of different aspects of migrants’ international experience (duration, host country, occupation, etc.) in acquiring unique or complementary skills? How do the unique skills and experience of migrants position them in the labour market as agents of change? How do these skills affect migrants’ earnings, job satisfaction and life satisfaction?

Our methodology

We prepared a concise overview of methodology deployed in our project. The document is available in the publications section of this website.

This research is funded by the Latvian Council of Science, project «Exploring Well-Being and Social Integration in the Context of Liquid Migration: A Longitudinal Approach», project No. lzp-2018/1-0042.