Immigration is a crucial issue in contemporary politics, and attitudes towards immigration are highly dispersed in many countries. We treat individuals' immigration friendliness (IF) as a feature of their self-image or identity and hypothesize that, similar to other pro-social self-images, greater immigration friendliness is associated with greater subjective well-being (SWB). We further hypothesize that greater disparity of immigration attitudes yields social antagonism and as such is associated with less SWB. Finally, we hypothesize that greater disparity of immigration attitudes permits immigration-friendly individuals to differentiate themselves from others, thus raising the SWB benefit of holding an immigration-friendly self- image. Using 225,356 observations from 35 European countries, 2002-2015, we find evidence consistent with the hypotheses stated above. A 1-standard-deviation (SD) increase in IF is associated with an increase in 11-point life satisfaction (LS) by 0.15 to 0.32 points, whereas a 1-SD increase in attitude disparity is associated with a decrease in LS by 0.05 to 0.11 points.
immigration attitudes identity antagonism social conflict subjective well-being