Happiness in the Daily Socio-Cultural Integration Process: A day Reconstruction Study among American Immigrants in Germany

Martijn Hendriks*, Randall Birnberg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Many immigrants struggle to integrate into host societies, despite the frequent long-term benefits of integration for immigrants and host societies. This article aims to increase understandings of immigrants’ experiences and obstacles in the daily socio-cultural integration process by examining the understudied impact of daily integration behaviors on momentary happiness. The daily experiences of 213 immigrants from the United States in Germany were captured, using a day reconstruction method. Our panel fixed-effects estimates show that immigrants who were not fluent in the host country's majority language generally felt happier when communicating in their mother tongue, as opposed to the majority language. Moreover, interacting with majority group members negatively affected the momentary happiness of less culturally integrated immigrants. By contrast, socio-cultural integration related positively to immigrants’ enduring happiness. Our results suggest that socio-cultural integration is an investment involving short-term costs to happiness, with important daily obstacles being the cost to momentary happiness of speaking the majority language and, to a lesser extent, interacting with majority group members. We argue that integration behaviors’ short-term costs also occur in many other migration contexts. The revealed short-term costs can increase understandings of immigrants’ integration struggles and related outcomes, including segregation and loneliness, and decreasing the costs may improve socio-cultural integration trajectories.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)619-643
Number of pages25
JournalInternational Migration Review
Issue number2
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2023

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© The Author(s) 2023.


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